I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, 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 daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law. (Luke 12:49-53)
Dee Brookshire, an English writer for Advancing Native Missions, tells the story of E, a Muslim woman, who turned to Jesus. E was slapped by her parents and spat upon by her father and locked in her room for three years until her father found someone who would marry her. She was one of the fortunate converts who wasn’t slaughtered or burnt with acid. Being a Christian in the Middle East causes great division. Jesus told us, “Peace I bring to you.” Peace was His purpose. Unfortunately, there has never been true freedom of religion in the middle east. Changing religions has always caused division.
Jesus had the knowledge He would be crucified. Only a convicted killer sentenced to the electric chair could even fathom the anxiety and constraint that would bring. So, of course, Jesus wished the fire were already kindled. He wanted to put the torture behind him. Our baptism is a ritual that symbolizes what Jesus did for us on the cross. After we repent, He washes away our sin. His baptism was the real deal. He allowed himself to be tortured on the cross, so our sin would be buried with Him. When He rose, our sins were released with Him, gone with the wind, a symbol for the Holy Spirit. Another symbol for the Holy Spirit is fire. Jesus came to bring us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is peace. She comforts us.
Dearest God, The Three-in-one: Father God, thank you for Your great plan of love, forgiveness and grace that allows me to be righteous. Jesus, thank you for loving me. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Holy Spirit thank you for Your guidance, power, love, and comfort that give me peace. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.