You would think that the most loving Man to walk the face of the earth would be received with equal love and respect.
Instead, people devoted to the religion of his nation sought his death in the most inhumane way that had been devised by humans.
As Jesus journeyed to Jerusalem, he knew what he faced.
He predicted his death, but his followers could not comprehend how someone who could raise the dead would be put to death.
Jesus described the conflict he was about to face with these words:
— Luke 12.49-50 – “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!
“I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed!”
Jesus initiated the kingdom of God on earth and said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news” (Mark 1.15).
The announcement of the kingdom of God was like putting a sign in the window of the world that said, “Under New Management.”
The presence of a new management system for the world was good news for every person who was oppressed and denied rights under the existing system.
The people who benefited from keeping the old system in place resisted the new government that Jesus exemplified in his words and actions.
The “Under New Management” mission of Jesus was destined to conflict with the invested interests of the world’s system in Jerusalem.
Jesus knew what was before him and was ready to embrace the “baptism” of the cross.
Jesus was aware that his death was part of God’s agenda for his life. Isaiah identified his mission.
Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain.
When you make his life an offering for sin,
he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days;
through him the will of the Lord shall prosper.
Out of his anguish he shall see light;
he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge.
The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities. (Isaiah 53.13-14)
His love embraced unimaginable suffering for the sake of his beloved, sinners like you and me.
Conflict Will Not Escape Us
Jesus taught, “A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master;
“It is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master” (Matthew 10.24-25).
By the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can be like Jesus. That is the greatest goal in life.
One aspect of being like Jesus will be opposition from people who are tied to the world’s system.
— Luke 12.51-53 – “Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!
“From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided:
“father against son
and son against father,
mother against daughter
and daughter against mother,
mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
People who align their lives with Jesus’ agenda will experience conflict.
(1) They will first experience conflict within their own self.
Paul wrote, “For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want” (Galatians 5.17).
The “flesh” is not just our body. Rather, it is a person’s inclination to live separate from God.
Our innate desire to live according to our “own best thinking” opposes the directions from the Holy Spirit.
Thoughts and desires that oppose God’s purpose for our lives must be conquered.
(2) Just as Jesus experienced powerful opposition from representatives of the world’s system, so will we.
The world’s system resists the “Under New Management” lifestyle of God’s kingdom.
Most people who identify as a follower of Jesus in the workplace know the subtle and not so subtle ways of conflict with the world’s system.
(3) The devil is behind all of the resistance to God’s plans.
The temptation of Jesus by the devil in the wilderness (Luke 4.1-13) reveals the true power behind all opposition to God’s plans on earth.
One man said, “If you didn’t meet the devil today, it was because you were walking in the same direction.”
If we choose to walk with Jesus, we can count on meeting some kind of resistance from the devil, the world’s system, or our “flesh.”
The Pain is Worth It.
The opportunity to be like Jesus is worth all of the pain of rejection and opposition.
Jesus uses opposition and persecution to develop his followers into a more mature life.
Rudy Ross and I have produced a YouTube video on this passage. Rudy has some insights about “fire” and other thoughts that you will be blessed to hear.
The video is on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
Please email your prayer request to firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.