“I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a Baptism to be baptized with, and how great is My distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on in one house there will be five 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.”(Luke 12:49-53 ESV)
Have you ever wondered what it felt like for Jesus, to walk the earth and do His ministry and look forward to its ending at the cross? Here is one of the rare cases where we hear Him talking about His feelings. And the main thing He seems to feel is urgency. He says, “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!” Those are the words of a man in a hurry.
Or again, He says, “I have a Baptism to be baptized with, and how great is My distress until it is accomplished!” He knows what is coming—His own suffering and death on the cross—and He’s having a hard time enduring the wait. He calls it distress, and that’s right.
Jesus is distressed, partly no doubt for human reasons—no human being likes to look forward to death in such a horrible way. And yet He is also concerned about the people He came to save—because His salvation will lead to even more trouble. Families are going to be broken up—two will believe in Jesus, while the other three won’t. Relatives will be divided on the question of Jesus. Who is He? Is He a liar? Is He a blasphemer? Is He exactly who He says He is, the Son of God, our Savior?
Jesus’ urgency came to a head on the night when He was betrayed and arrested, and put on trial for His life. By 9 o’clock the next morning He would be hanging on a cross, and by 3 p.m. He would’ve finished everything necessary to save us—and given up His spirit to God, and died. The mad rush was over. At least for Jesus!
For the people who trusted in Him, their rush was just beginning. They had time to take a breath on Holy Saturday when Jesus rested in the tomb. But with Easter Sunday, Jesus rose from the dead and those who saw Him started running—running to tell the others, running to spread the news to everyone. They were urgent. Jesus’ urgency had passed to them.
The church is still running today, isn’t it? We are running every time someone shares their faith with friends or family. We are running when missionaries go overseas or to those in our own country who haven’t had a chance to hear about Jesus. We run with urgency, because we know that soon Jesus will come back and bring a glorious end to all our running. All the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God, and we will celebrate together in His kingdom.
Prayer: Dear Father, help us to share Jesus’ urgency as we wait for His coming. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Originally published in The Lutheran Hour on August 11, 2022
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights reserved
1. What situations in your life make you feel most urgent and distressed right now?
2. Why do you think the Prince of Peace divides families?
3. What are you looking forward to in God’s kingdom?