I Came To Set the Earth on Fire – Gospel in Life

I Came To Set the Earth on Fire

Tim Keller |  January 17, 1993

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  • Atonement
  • Redemption
Luke 12:49-53
RS 39-08


Sometimes when you read Jesus’ teachings, you feel like you’ve gotten on a horse that’s much too big and much too fast for you. When you read what Jesus says in Luke 12, you have nothing but lightning and blood, but in the center of this teaching is the most wonderful thing a human heart can hear.

In this text, we learn two things: we learn about the divisiveness of Jesus caused by his self-centered teaching, and we learn about the agony of Jesus caused by his self-denying love. It may be surprising to many of you to see what he says, but you don’t know the real Jesus unless you understand his divisiveness and the constant agony and pressure under which he labored every minute of his ministry.

Let’s look now at these two things: 1) the divisiveness of Jesus, and 2) the agony of Jesus.

Understanding Luke 12:49–53

When we look at Jesus’ teachings in Luke 12:49-53, we see a different side of him. Even though his words might seem like they’re causing trouble or focusing on himself, they actually highlight his self-sacrificing love and the pain he felt because of it. It’s a heavy thought, but it’s also comforting: Jesus might not be safe, but he’s definitely good.

1. The tough choice

Jesus’ teachings are different because they focus on him, unlike other religious leaders who don’t put themselves in the spotlight. He says that he matters and believing in him as the truth is super important for our future. But Jesus is also humble and caring, which makes it a tough choice: you either totally accept him or you don’t. There’s no middle ground.

2. The tough love

Jesus talks about feeling upset and looking forward to a baptism that symbolizes God’s anger and judgment. This reminds us that we need to look at ourselves closely to avoid being judged forever. The story shows Jesus’ love because he willingly suffered for us. It encourages us to accept Jesus’ endless love, let go of anger and judgment, because in the end, Jesus is the one who’s responsible.



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