It is from the start an apocalyptic speech about judgement. And our section starts with the fire that is traditionally a metaphor for judgement.
How do we read these passages in a ‘present time’ (v.56) in which both judgement and suffering are not in fashion? I thought Jesus came to bring ‘peace on earth’ (Luke 2: 14) and ‘good news for the poor’ (Luke 4:18)? I thought with Jesus there was an end to suffering ‘the lame walk, the lepers are cleanse, the deaf hear’ (Luke 7:22)?
The problem is that for these things (peace, equality, healing) to really happen there needs to be such a deep rooted and pervasive transformation of both our understanding of God and our behaviour that in this transformation itself is the seed for the rejection and division.
Reading chapter 12 this becomes clear. The demand of the kingdom is so great as to be shocking. Not everybody will like this. It is bound to run into opposition. Jesus’ vision and ministry are so radical that judgement and suffering are inherent in it. The fire of judgement and the water of baptism of v. 49-50 are later echoed in the predictions of rain and the heat (v. 54-55). Let us try -rather than predict the weather- to judge the time we live in, in the light of Jesus’ vision.
14 August 2016
Luke 12: 49-56
This weekly blog on one of the lectionary readings is by Anne Claar Thomasson-Rosingh, Programme Leader for Lifelong Learning at Sarum College.