February 23 – Devotion Sharing (Luke 12)

Submitted by Sarah S. from Gracepoint Austin Church

Luke 12:49-59

Fire, peace, division

People might’ve assumed what following Jesus would’ve brought into their lives. People might’ve thought following Jesus would bring in benefits.  Believing in Jesus would mean that everything would go well in their lives since he seemed to have power to heal, bring about miracles.  However, Jesus describes to the people that his mission wasn’t to bring peace.  But in fact following Jesus meant his presence and commitment to him would take precedence over all other loyalties in a person’s life, and believing in him would bring divisions and cause rifts between even the most closest of relationships, which was within the family unit.  Jesus didn’t come just to provide salvation, but he came to divide humanity as people decided to follow him or not.  It reminds me that in the end the defining identity among people is whether they are followers of Jesus or not.  In the end, that’s the real difference among people taking priority even over physical family ties.

This causes me to evaluate my expectations of following Jesus and whether I see my identity and others through the lens of this divide.  Following Jesus and my allegiance to Him means that I will experience hostility and push-back from those who are closest to me if they are not followers of Christ. Jesus says he’s come to bring division, not peace, so that means I should expect relational strain and tension from even those that I love because of my commitment to follow Jesus and their commitment to follow the values and ways of the world.  I know in my life that I’ve experienced this kind of division from those close to me as I tried to live out my convictions and the values that I see are from God’s word.  I see Jesus’ words being so true, that as I follow Him and prioritize my loyalty and obedience to Jesus, there will be divisions and relational difficulties, but it’s something I need to expect.  Also, if this is ultimately the way people are divided, then all other divisions are peripheral.  It means all other ways of viewing people and categorizing them doesn’t matter because ultimately, it’s whether their identity is as followers of Christ or followers of the world.

Interpret the times

Jesus is frustrated with the people who seem to have acuteness to interpreting the weather or the season, but are so spiritually dull.  They’re so aware of the physical appearance of the sky, about how the weather might affect their crops, and how much financial impact it might bring to them. However, they’re so dull and unaware of the spiritual truths or the time they were living in and how close the kingdom of God was to them.  Their focus was just on their own physical lives, and they failed to recognize the coming of God’s kingdom through Jesus.  Why? Because they were much more aware of the weather because assuring their security through physical needs was much more important and pressing than spiritual matters.

It seems so foolish of these people, and yet I see how I can relate to them.  I can be so caught up in my own personal schedule, agenda, or problems that I can miss out on the messages God may be giving me to re-evaluate my life or my relationship with Him or to notice the spiritual climate around me as I minister to people.  I can focus on just the tasks, doing things, becoming good at being a food lead or leading small group discussions, or good conversationalist, and yet in the midst of doing these things and going along with my life I can fail to hear from God and what he might be doing, and how he may be addressing and guiding my life.  I can focus on these things more because it’s feels more immediate, the things I need to get done seems more pressing and “real”, or the payback of people’s approval/attention seems more important.  It’s so tragic that these people were with and saw Jesus, and yet they didn’t know the spiritual times, who Jesus was and what he would do on the cross.  In the same way, it’s really a sobering warning for me to not allow this tragedy to happen in my own life, to miss out on the spiritual truths and become blind to God’s messages by focusing on the tasks or agendas I feel like I need to get done.  I see this as a warning even more so as I know I’ve been entrusted with people to guide and lead spiritually, and if I’m so blind and dull or clueless to God’s messages, I know that the people under me will be negatively impacted and even hurt by my spiritual dullness

 —

Submitted by Jackie W. from Gracepoint Austin Church

Luke 12:51-53

  • What kind of peace does Jesus refer to in v. 51?

The kind of peace that Jesus refers to in v. 51 isn’t the kind of peace that most people would think of today, because his kind of peace would lead to division among family members as “five in one family [will be] divided against each other.” In the verses beforehand, Jesus refers to a judgment that is coming, and this judgment would eventually divide families because it’s dealing with people’s response to Jesus’ claims as he makes it clear that people will either follow after him or reject him. So this isn’t the kind of peace where everyone is getting along, but this peace leads to division because not everyone wants this kind of peace of being reconciled with God and some will choose to not accept it while others will follow after Jesus and experience the peace that comes from knowing that they’ve been forgiven of their sins by God and that there’s the hope of heaven.

  • Why would living a life for Jesus cause division? 

Living a life for Jesus would cause division because to follow after him demands complete submission to him and his ways, and we’re entrusting every aspect of our lives to him. This kind of living is so contrary to how the world teaches us to live, which is that we should live for ourselves, place our own needs first, and invest in a self-centered future. The world teaches us to be selfish, self-focused and self-indulgent, while Jesus teaches us to let go of our own desires and place the needs of others before ourselves. It’s a life of loving others rather than loving ourselves. So to follow after him and live our lives for him would cause division because it goes against how the majority of the world is living, the kind of values that the world imparts upon us, and not everyone will agree that this is the best way to live one’s life.

  • Why does Jesus use the family context to describe the division he brings?

Jesus uses the family context to describe the division he brings because the family unit is the strongest kind of bond between humans, as families are supposed to be tight-knit and close due to the loyalty that forms through the blood connection, but Jesus is saying that even the kind of bond that would normally hold a family together wouldn’t be strong enough for what he was about to bring. And that is so true even today. As I think about people who are the only Christian in the family, I often hear about the kind of conflicts that occur because of the disagreements over certain choices that the Christian has made due to differing value system.  People who love us want the best for us, and they may even have the best of intentions, but what non-Christians value is so different from what Christians value.  Ironically, it’s within the family unit, the people who are supposedly closest to us, where we face the greatest types of opposition.

Luke 12:54-56

  • Why did Jesus call the crowd hypocrites in v. 56?

Jesus called the crowd hypocrites in v. 56 because they were able to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky through their eyes but they were so blind to Jesus’ teachings and claims and they weren’t able to see that he was indeed God’s son in the flesh and that he had come to bring them eternal life, that they needed to repent of the ways that they were living in opposition to God’s ways. So they couldn’t interpret the “present time” and what really mattered, yet they were so busy interpreting temporal things that in the end don’t really matter. The signs of the time were everywhere, and Jesus made it clear through his teachings what these signs were, but the crowd chose to remain spiritually blind as their focus was on physical reality.

Luke 12:57-59

  • How should I be interpreting the present time, according to v. 58?

According to v. 58, I should be interpreting the present time as a time that’s leading up to the judgment, so while I am headed in that direction, I need to be reconciled to the adversary. The choices that I make now matters later on as I will be held accountable for those choices before God, and if there are areas in my life that I know are not right before God, I need to deal with those areas and repent so that reconciliation can happen before judgment comes.

  • If going before the judge refers to the final judgment at the end of one’s life, what does being “reconciled to the adversary on the way” refer to?

If going to the judge refers to the final judgment at the end of one’s life, being “reconciled to the adversary on the way” refers to a person who has repented and is reconciled to God.   It means that she’s confessed her sins and received forgiveness through what Jesus did on the cross for her and that she’s submitted her life over to him. It also means that the division is no longer there due to her sins, that she’s no longer separated from God because of her sins because there’s been reconciliation.

  • According to this passage, what is the only thing that matters in the end?

According to this passage, the only thing that matters in the end is whether or not I’ve repented of my sins and that I, a sinner, is reconciled with my Holy God. It doesn’t matter how competent I am, how much “good works” I’ve done for God, how well I was able to keep up with ministry or with my spiritual disciplines.  All this outwardly stuff doesn’t matter, if at the end, I never properly repented over my sins and received forgiveness for the ways that I’ve wronged God and others. What God ultimately cares about is what’s in my heart, and whether or not I’m taking the time to make that heart-to-heart connection with Him, and that happens as I regularly confess my sins, repent and allow Gods word to speak to me and remain obedient in my life. It’s easy to get caught up with all the different tasks I need to get done, and to think that ministry is about being successful in accomplishing these different tasks, but this passage makes it clear that in the end, God doesn’t care about how much I’ve done for Him, how “accomplished” of a Christian life I led, but what matters is whether or not my relationship with Him is made right and that I’ve received reconciliation through Jesus.

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