Luke 12:49-59

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

July 18, 2001


Jesus has been teaching about a couple of subjects.  At the beginning of the chapter He began to address a large crowd of people about things like hypocrisy and greed.  He talked about working to be wealthy with God rather than being wealthy on earth.

He turned to His disciples and clarified that He especially didn’t want His disciples to be people who were consumed with materialism.  Instead, Jesus promised that if His disciples would seek God’s ways first, then God would take care of their needs.

Then Jesus began to warn His disciples that there might be a time when He wasn’t with them, and they needed to be like faithful servants who kept doing what they were supposed to do, even when the Master wasn’t around.

Jesus continues to speak to His disciples –

:49-53 Jesus brings trouble

:49  I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?

to sendballo – to throw or let go of a thing without caring where it falls; to scatter, to throw, cast into

will Ithelo – to will, have in mind, intend; to be resolved or determined, to purpose; to desire, to wish; to love; to like to do a thing, be fond of doing; to take delight in, have pleasure

kindledanapto – to light up, kindle

49 (PHIL)  "It is fire that I have come to bring upon the earth—how I could wish it were already ablaze!

What is Jesus talking about here?

Some have suggested that Jesus is talking about the fire of judgment.

This could possibly be the case, but I’m not sure this is a “fire” that Jesus wishes were already burning.  God is not willing that any should perish (2Pet. 3:9).

I wonder if He isn’t talking about the fire of the Holy Spirit.

John the Baptist said,
(Mat 3:11 KJV)  I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
When the Holy Spirit came upon the early church,
(Acts 2:2-4 KJV)  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. {3} And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. {4} And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
I can see Jesus being excited about this kind of fire!  And it certainly fits with the next verse because Jesus had to die on a cross for our sins before the Holy Spirit could come upon the church.

:50 But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!

a baptismbaptisma – immersion, submersion; of calamities and afflictions with which one is quite overwhelmed

to be baptized withbaptizo – to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge (of vessels sunk); to cleanse by dipping or submerging, to wash, to make clean with water, to wash one’s self, bathe; to overwhelm

straitenedsunecho – to hold together; any whole, lest it fall to pieces or something  fall away from it; to hold together with constraint, to compress; to press together with the hand; to press on every side; to hold completely; metaph. to be held by, closely occupied with any business; to constrain, oppress, of ills laying hold of one and distressing him; to be held with, afflicted with, suffering from

it be accomplishedteleo – to bring to a close, to finish, to end; to perform, execute, complete, fulfil, (so that the thing done corresponds to what has been said, the order, command etc.)

This is the same word that Jesus used

(John 19:30 KJV)  When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

We could paraphrase this verse to say,

I have a baptism to be immersed in and I am going to be very distressed until it is accomplished.

What is Jesus talking about?

He’s talking about the “baptism” of His soon death.

(Mat 20:20-28 KJV)  Then came to him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. {21} And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom. {22} But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. {23} And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father. {24} And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren. {25} But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. {26} But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; {27} And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: {28} Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Jesus asked James and John if they were able to go through what He would be going through.  And He said that they would – they would both suffer greatly for the gospel.
Jesus would be giving His life as a ransom for many. He was facing a baptism of suffering and death.

Jesus was looking forward to seeing His “baptism” of dying on the cross to be finished.

:51 Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:

suppose yedokeo – to be of opinion, think, suppose; to seem, to be accounted, reputed

I am comeparaginomai – to be present, to come near, approach; to come forth, make one’s public appearance

peaceeirene – a state of national tranquility; peace between individuals, i.e. harmony, concord; security, safety, prosperity

divisiondiamerismos – a parting, distribution; disunion, dissension

:52 For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.

divideddiamerizo – to cleave asunder, cut in pieces; to be divided into opposing parts, to be at variance, in dissension

:53 The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

shall be divideddiamerizo – to cleave asunder, cut in pieces; to be divided into opposing parts, to be at variance, in dissension

mother in lawpenthera – mother-in-law, a wife’s mother

daughter in lawnumphe – a betrothed woman, a bride; a recently married woman, young wife; a young woman; a daughter-in-law


Following Jesus can create problems

Sometimes we can have the idea that if we follow Jesus, life will be better.  When we honestly look at what it means to follow Jesus, we come to the conclusion that it is good and right to follow Jesus, and it is.  But don’t expect everyone to applaud you.
I’ve known people who have had their lives messed up with drugs, problems with the police, etc.  And when they turn to Jesus, they get nothing but hassles from their family.
When we choose to follow Jesus, there comes a point where you are consciously deciding that Jesus is more important to you than any other relationship in the world.
(Luke 14:25-33 KJV)  And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, {26} If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. {27} And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. {28} For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? {29} Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, {30} Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. {31} Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? {32} Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. {33} So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

There will come times when people close to you will not understand why you are choosing to follow Jesus.  If Jesus is not the most important person in the world to you, then it will be hard to stand for Him when you’re with these other people.

I Have Decided
I have decided to follow Jesus … no turning back, no turning back.
The world behind me, the cross before me …
Though none go with me, still I will follow …

:54-59  Discern the times and life’s situations

:54 And he said also to the people, When ye see a cloud rise out of the west, straightway ye say, There cometh a shower; and so it is.

the peopleochlos – a crowd; a casual collection of people; a throng; a multitude

There have been times when Jesus has addressed the larger crowd and times when he’s addressed just the disciples.  Here he turns from addressing the disciples to the crowd again.

cloudnephele – a cloud; used of the cloud which led the Israelites in the wilderness

rise outanatello – rise; to cause to rise; of the earth bring forth plants; to rise, arise, to rise from, be descended from

the westdusme – the setting of the sun; the region of the sunset, the west

straightwayeutheos – straightway, immediately, forthwith

a showerombros – a shower; a violent storm, accompanied by high wind with thunder and lightning

People didn’t have the Weather Channel to turn to.  Their predictions about the weather came from things like the formation of clouds and such.

:55 And when ye see the south wind blow, ye say, There will be heat; and it cometh to pass.

south windnotos – the south wind; the south, the southern quarter

blowpneo – to breathe, to blow; of the wind

heatkauson – burning heat; Eurus, a very dry hot, east wind, scorching and drying up everything

For us, it’s like getting up in the morning and going outside to feel the Santa Ana winds stirring up – you know it’s going to be a hot day.

:56 Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but

:56  how is it that ye do not discern this time?

hypocriteshupokrites – one who answers, an interpreter; an actor, stage player; a dissembler, pretender, hypocrite

discerndokimazo – to test, examine, prove, scrutinise (to see whether a thing is genuine or not), as metals; to recognise as genuine after examination, to approve, deem worthy

timekairos – due measure; a measure of time, a larger or smaller portion of time, hence:; opportune or seasonable time; the right time

This isn’t “time” in the sense of days, hours, or minutes.  It’s “time” in the sense of the “right time”, knowing the “proper time”.

There are some people who are quite good at what they know.

I’ve known guys who can hear a car drive by and tell you what’s wrong with the car.  Some people can take an out of balance checkbook and find the problem in two minutes.  If you describe the problem your computer is having to some people, they’ll tell you in a second what you need to do.  There are some people who can tell you who won the World Series in 1938 or who holds the record for most errors.  Some people can listen to a song, pick up an instrument, and play the song back for you.


What does God want me to do?

Sometimes the window is only open for so long.  Sometimes you need to be able to know that you need to obey now.
Last week we looked briefly at a man named Amasa who had been put in charge of David’s army for a brief period of time.  When David had ordered Amasa to take the army and take care of a dangerous situation, Amasa dragged his feet and didn’t respond quickly.  David ended up replacing him with someone who would respond to his orders.
The person who Amasa had briefly replaced and who later got his job back was a man named Joab.  Look how Joab originally got his job as head of the army –

(1 Chr 11:4-7 KJV)  And David and all Israel went to Jerusalem, which is Jebus; where the Jebusites were, the inhabitants of the land. {5} And the inhabitants of Jebus said to David, Thou shalt not come hither. Nevertheless David took the castle of Zion, which is the city of David. {6} And David said, Whosoever smiteth the Jebusites first shall be chief and captain. So Joab the son of Zeruiah went first up, and was chief. {7} And David dwelt in the castle; therefore they called it the city of David.

Though Joab is a guy with a lot of problems, he was certainly a guy who knew how to respond and respond quickly to his master’s orders.

Esther was a beautiful young Jewish girl who won a beauty pageant and ended up as one of the wives of the emperor or Persia, though no one knew she was Jewish.  After she had become Queen of Persia, a wicked man named Haman came up with a plot to have all the Jews in Persia exterminated.  Haman had convinced the emperor to have a certain group of people killed, but the emperor didn’t know whom these people were, and certainly didn’t know that it was the Jews.  When Esther’s uncle Mordecai found out about the plot, he told her about the plot and suggested that she talk to the emperor.  She replied,

(Est 4:11-14 KJV)  All the king's servants, and the people of the king's provinces, do know, that whosoever, whether man or woman, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre, that he may live: but I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days.

In other words, Esther was a little worried about just marching up to the emperor.  She was afraid that if he was in a bad mood, she might be killed.  She was a little reluctant to get involved.

{12} And they told to Mordecai Esther's words. {13} Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews. {14} For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

Mordecai knew that God would save the Jews somehow, whether Esther helped or not.  But he had this idea that God had put Esther in the place of Queen for a reason, to use her to save the Jews.

For each of us, from time to time we find ourselves in unique positions.  There are certain people that we are connected with.  There are certain places God has placed us.  And there are certain times that God desires to use us in our position.
Will we be able to “discern” when God is wanting to use us?
Michael W. Smith wrote a song about Cassie Bernall, the teenager that was killed for not denying her faith in the Columbine high school massacre:
This is Your Time
by Michael W. Smith and Wes King

It was a test we could all hope to pass

But none of us would want to take

Faced with the choice to deny God and live

For her there was one choice to make …


This was her time

This was her dance

She lived every moment

Left nothing to chance

She swam in the sea

Drank of the deep

Embraced the mystery

of all she could be

What if tomorrow

What it today

Faced with the question

Oh, what would you say …

From Michael W. Smith’s album, This is your time, c. 1999 Milene Music, Deer Valley Music
In reality, if you look at Cassie’s life, she took a stand for Jesus, and she died.  Was that supposed to happen?  You might ask, isn’t that a waste?  Wouldn’t it be better if she kept silent about her faith and was still alive.  Perhaps.  But perhaps not.  Many, many people have come to trust in Jesus because of the courage that Cassie showed to stand up for her faith in the face of a gun.

:57 Yea, and why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right?

judgekrino – to separate, put asunder, to pick out, select, choose; to approve, esteem, to prefer; to be of opinion, deem, think, to be of opinion; to judge

Jesus is going to give an example of what it means to “discern the times”

:58 When thou goest with thine adversary to the magistrate, as thou art in the way, give diligence that thou mayest be delivered from him; lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and the officer cast thee into prison.

adversaryantidikos – opponent; an opponent in a suit of law; an adversary, enemy

magistratearchon – a ruler, commander, chief, leader

way hodos – properly a way; a traveled way, road

When you’re on the way to the judge with your adversary …

diligenceergasia – a working, performing; work, business; gain got by work, profit; endeavour, pains

be deliveredapallasso – to remove, release, to be removed, to depart; to set free, deliver

halekatasuro – to draw down, pull down; to draw along, drag forcibly

officerpraktor – one who does anything, a doer; one who does the work of inflicting punishment or taking vengeance; an officer of justice of the lower order whose business it is to inflict punishment

:59 I tell thee, thou shalt not depart thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite.

mitelepton – thin, small; a small brass coin, equivalent to the eighth part of an "as", worth about a 1/5 of a cent

thou hast paidapodidomi – to deliver, to give away for one’s own profit what is one’s own, to sell; to pay off, discharge what is due; a debt, wages, tribute, taxes, produce due; to give back, restore

Jesus is giving an example of learning to discern the times around you.

He’s speaking to the multitude, to people who are not necessarily Christians.

He’s setting up a situation where one person has done something wrong to another person and they refuse to do anything about making things right.  The offended person takes the offender to court and because the offender doesn’t want to do anything about the situation, they end up paying for every last cent of what they owe.


Take care of business

If you’ve offended someone, NOW is the time to do something about it.  Now is the time to make things right.
Sometimes we think that if we just ignore certain problems that they’ll go away.  And yet instead they get worse.