Luke 12:49-56

Have you ever had your world turned upside down? This expression is far from literal. It means that something has happened so profound, that everything has changed. It could be your outlook on life. It could be the course of your life. It could be something that changed the world. It could be something that changed your world.

I have experienced this myself. Casper and I were newly married and living in another state. My mother, out of the blue, suggested we start attending our local church. This was surprising. My parents themselves did not attend themselves. Neither Casper nor I were particularly religious or seeking God. But we went. A few months later, in January, my mother was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. She died that September at fifty-three.

To say that this turned my world upside down would be an understatement. But as I look back on it, I can feel God’s hand. I think it was the Holy Spirit who prodded my mum’s suggestion. And the support and love we received from that first Christian community was profound. It changed the course of my life.

Our text this week from Luke 12:49-56 has some of the toughest verses in this Gospel. This is not Jesus “meek and mild.” Jesus addresses a crowd of thousands as he makes his way to Jerusalem where he will be crucified. I imagine his voice getting louder and louder as he spoke. These harsh sayings serve as a reminder. Division can be a product of living differently. Division can be a product of following Jesus. Things are about to be turned upside down.

We have no way of knowing if Jesus was aware of what was to come. He died in Jerusalem. He was crucified. “There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews”” (23:38). It’s a bit ironic, really. Jesus did turn out to be King, but not the kind of king that some expected. After his death, when his followers were huddled together in a locked room, did they remember Jesus’ words? “Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division” (12:51). We can’t know. All we do know is that Jesus, in his life, death and resurrection did turn the world upside down. Things were never the same again. There was personal cost in following Jesus. Yes, peace did and does come. This is peace which surpasses all understanding. This is peace which is good news. This peace has been given to us in love.

Yours in Christ, Kathryn