Not Peace But Division

February 8, 2024 — Krystal Craven
The title text "Not Peace But Division" over a brick wall painted blue on the top and white on the bottom.

“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. For 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)

This little section of verses is packed full! Jesus quickly speaks about the coming judgement and His work on the cross in just the first two sentences, before giving us the details of what to expect (especially when the world tries to say otherwise!).

Fire & Baptism

We know in Jesus’ first coming that He came to set the captives free, not to condemn but to save. But in His second coming, there will be a fiery judgement upon the earth and those on earth who have chosen to reject the salvation offered to them through Jesus. However, at the time Jesus said this, He hadn’t even been crucified yet.

It’s really interesting how Jesus describes His pending death for the sins of the world though a baptism and that it was a great distress to Him until it was accomplished. When we go through water baptism, we are publicly showing the inner work that took place in our hearts in an outward way. As we go down into the water and back up again, it symbolizes our dying to sin and going into the grave and then raising to life anew; this is identifying with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. And in that act of death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus redeemed mankind – of which He was eager to do and is why it caused such great distress until it was accomplished. We were the joy set before Him on that day, the reward in which He was paying His life to redeem.

Not Peace, But Division

This whole idea of peace and division is something that most people who don’t have a true knowledge of God and the Bible usually miss. They claim that Jesus was all about unity and tolerance and love, usually to justify their sin when the Holy Spirit is convicting them concerning sin and righteousness and judgement. While Jesus is indeed about unity, it’s unity within His church, of which He prayed for in His high priestly prayer; and grace, of which through the apostle’s letters we are encouraged to abound in; and love, of which God is. But an aspect that is often disregarded by those misguided Bible quoters is that Jesus is also the Way and the Truth and the Life, and while that creates unity and stirs grace and love within His Church, it indeed creates division between darkness and light.

Just as with the woman caught in adultery, Jesus came to draw a line in the sand. He Himself created division amongst the Jews in His day – those who heard Him and believed and those who heard Him and loved their sin more, which fueled their desire to kill Him. When Peter and John were brought before the council in Acts 4, there was division between them, as followers of Jesus, and the Jewish council, who had killed Jesus. And the Scriptures say that Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:8-12)

Jesus Himself is the dividing line and as He had said earlier in Luke, Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. (Luke 11:23) And the fact that there is salvation in no one else other than Jesus is a solid line that will create a divide between those who are in Christ and those who aren’t.

Unity Because of Division

The thing is, while the world claims that they hate division and only want peace, the world inevitably creates division between them and the Church because darkness hates the light and wants nothing to do with it. But in that, while we don’t close off our doors and boundaries to never reach the lost in darkness, being persecuted by the world also inevitably creates a stronger unity within the Church as we all cling closely to Christ and walk in Him side by side together. As a united Church of Jesus, we stir one another to love and good works, we pray for one another and bear each other’s burdens, and we sharpen each other like iron sharpens iron.

When you face the division that the dividing line of Christ draws, especially when it comes to families, like Jesus described – father against son, mother against daughter, etc – it can feel discouraging and almost like we’re doing something wrong. I’m sure Peter and John and Paul felt that way when they were facing criminal charges for preaching Christ, but they weren’t doing wrong, they were walking rightly before God and in the calling He gave them. And just as the Word of God, which is living and active, pierces to the division of soul and of spirit, and discerns the thoughts and intensions of the heart – not all division is bad so long as it’s in accordance with following God.

To be extremely clear, the division is not over just anything. God is not saying division with families is what He came for or that’s what He desires. That’s not even the goal, because it is God’s will that ALL would come to repentance. What Jesus is saying is that when it comes to following Him, it will create divisions when some members of a household follow Jesus and the others don’t. If this is the state of your family right now, my heart goes out to you, and it’s a really hard situation. I do hope this encourages you as you continue in your walk with Jesus and living with the division that choosing Him has brought – Jesus knew that kind of division would happen and He’s given you a church family to be united to in Him.

Ultimately, we need to keep walking and growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, sharing the truth in love with all who will listen, pray for the unsaved and for opportunities to share the gospel, live peaceably with others so far as it depends on us, and take up the full armor of God as we stand strong in the strength of His might as we serve and eagerly await His return for us.

The text from Luke 12:51-52 "Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three." over a brick wall painted blue on the top and white on the bottom.