Lord Jesus Christ,
You call us to come
To be with you,
To hear your voice
To listen deeply to your word.
By your Spirit help me
To see you,
To hear your voice,
To follow you in all of life,
In the way of God’s gracious reality.
Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Our lectionary guide leads us again into Judea, where thousands of people crowd around Jesus as he visits first one village and then another on his way to Jerusalem.
His disciples are also present, standing close. We are invited to join them there.
The end in is sight. Jesus knows what awaits him. He has been to the mountain, and knows that his death is not the end, but rather the accomplishment of God’s loving design to rescue the world from its captivity to death and destruction (Luke 9:28-35).
He is not swayed by the adulation of the huge crowds as they press in to hear what he has to say. He is not deterred by the power and critique of religious leadership. With clarity of soul and sight, Jesus sees into the heart. He discerns the signs of the present time. And he speaks into the desire for peace – and how much division the in-breaking of God’s peace will bring.
Some years ago, a denominational leader once entered into conversation with me, challenging my belief in Jesus. “Don’t you think you’re being divisive if you believe that Jesus is the one who brings salvation to the world?” she asked. “Such a belief does not bring peace, but instead brings division in the world.” For a moment the logic of her thinking gave me pause. She was right. But her question was not about recognizing the division for what it is – the face of our ongoing disbelief and rebellion against God. Her question was designed to pull me away from trusting in this One who calls us to trust and to follow him in all of life. I felt the pull. And as I stood, the question hanging in the air between us, other questions arose within me. “Then what about suffering? What of those who have suffered because of their belief in Jesus? What about the apostle Paul and all he suffered? Why enter into such suffering if Jesus is not the Way, the Truth, and the Life? It makes no sense!” And so I replied to the question I had been asked. “Yes, there is division, but not of my making. This side of Eden we are already living over against God and each other. Jesus comes to heal that division. And some persons will not be able to see or agree with how God chooses to heal the divide.”
Jesus speaks into this chasm between us and God. He says, “I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed!” He knows he will immerse himself in the deadly waters of our hate, our lust, our rejection, our compulsive desire for power, for things, for control – all fueled by the lie which infiltrated our soul in Eden. To break the power of the lie, and to rescue us from the reign of darkness and bring us safe into the gracious realm of light and life, he will give his own self over and confront the powers of death and evil – and come victorious on the other side. But first the baptism.
The way of the cross, this way of Jesus, flies in the face of how we think life should work. And so this way of Jesus does bring tension and division. Jesus says, “From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three . . . father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother . . .”
Jesus calls us then to consider his call on our lives – to learn to judge what is truly right.
We are to discern the signs which reveal the failure of our world’s system, and the way the world’s voices continue to entice and lure us into believing that if we buy enough and produce enough, we will be somebody, and our consumer economy will be secure.
So we are called to listen, and to prayerfully discern, to judge:
Whose voice do I hear?
Where is my security – true security?
What is Jesus asking of me?
What does it cost to follow Jesus in all of life?
Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost
8/12 Monday: Luke 12:49-56
8/13 Tuesday: Luke 12:49-56
8/14 Wednesday: Psalm 80
8/15 Thursday: Isaiah 5:1-7
8/16 Friday: Hebrews 11:29 – 12:2
8/17 Saturday: Luke 12:49-56
8/18 Sunday: Luke 12:49-56