Verse 49 is just not easy to understand. It’s true. Incredibly, today yours truly read six largely different viewpoints from six commentators on that verse! The verse reads (in the ESV) “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!” And it is one of those that could possibly have a double meaning. But I don’t think so. I believe that what Jesus meant here is that the fire He came to start was the message of salvation, preaching Jesus Christ crucified, and that this fire (also lit aflame in the hearts of men and women) would spread throughout the world. And He wishes that it would begin already.
Now admittedly, He had not yet been crucified when He spoke those words. But notice in the next verse he said “I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished!” Of course, there is not total agreement on what this verse means. But for the most part, scholars interpret this as referring to his death, burial, and resurrection. The phrase “how great is my distress until it is accomplished” likely means two things – He wants to have it over with, and He certainly dreads it (He will prove that to be true soon in the garden at Gethsemane).
Beginning in verse 51, Jesus then talks about the differences that many families would have with the gospel. He said “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division…father against son and son against father, mother against daughter…” Today, perhaps more than ever in recent history, we see that very thing happening in families all over. Families are not converted or saved together, for the most part. Salvation comes to individuals, and often there is division among the family members concerning the Lord. Sometimes, those divisions even becomes bitterness toward each other.
In verses 54-56, Jesus speaks especially to that present generation. They have learned to predict the weather, but they cannot see the truth standing right in front of them – that the Messiah they have longed for has come. Verses 57-59 are good advice for anyone in a legal matter. Try to settle it with your adversary before (and even instead of) letting it go to court. But it is better advice for those who want to be saved. Seek forgiveness, as God has made it supremely possible, rather than facing God on the day of judgment.
(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog. All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility. When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.