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Reality Check(s) Ahead ~ Luke 12:49-59

February 7, 2016 ~ New City Church of Calgary ~ Pastor John Ferguson

Intro: There are those moments in life that define us, reality checks when we rise to the occasion, or we shrink back.
Eli Manning had several reality checks in 2007. He had been the QB for the NY Giants, and for his first three years, he
struggled, and the fans let him know about it. But in 2007, they won enough games to make it into the playoffs where they
defeated 3 favoured teams, only to face the undefeated 18-0 NE Patriots with their star QB, Tom Brady. Talk about a
reality check: no one expected the Giants to stay close. But despite the odds, they were in a position to win it at the
end of the game. On the final drive, Eli avoided a sack, rolled out & threw a miracle pass that led them to victory. This
reality check became a defining moment in his life.
Today, were going to look at a passage in which Jesus issues a reality check, or better yet, a series of reality checks.
These were defining moments for his original audience, and they will be a defining moment for those of us who hear his
message today.
You see, even though Jesus is at the height of his popularity, he begins being much more direct with his audience.
Time is running out. Hes already set his face toward Jerusalem and has begun the long march toward his death. So his
message, which has always been edgy and controversial, now gets sharpened to a point. Hes beginning to say hard
things that make themand usa bit uncomfortable. But these are things we need to hear.
If you are just exploring Christianity, what you need to know going into this study is that Jesus is going to present
you with several reality checks. Gather information about Jesus, see what he has to say, but Jesus is going to call
you to make a decision about living your life in light of who he is and what he says about reality.
If you are a follower of Jesus, youre going to see him reinforce what you already know, that we must take Jesus
with the utmost seriousness. Heres a reality check: At times Jesus comforts the afflicted, but at other times he
afflicts the comfortable.
So whether you are new to Christianity or have been around for a while, we all need to understand his edgy, controversial, hard sayings, because they help clarify reality for us. They help us not only to understand this most important
figure in world history, but they serve as the ultimate reality check b/c they help us understand the implications his
message both for this life and for the life to come.
Reality Check(s) Ahead ~ Luke 12:49-59
Reality Check #1: A Day of Reckoning Is Coming
49 I come to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!
1. This is the second of Jesus purpose statements in the Gospel of Luke.
5:32, I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. // refers to individual salvation
2. Second purpose statement refers to cosmic salvation: Jesus core message was about the coming kingdom of
Godperhaps best described as a revolution, and part of that is the Good News that Jesus is making everything
new! (Rev. 21:5) = the setting to right of everything that is wrong with this world.
(1) And fire is the perfect metaphor for this b/c fire (1) purges, and (2) purifies.
2 Peter 3:7, the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment
and destruction of the ungodly.
Miroslav Volf, Exclusion & Embrace, Should not a loving God be patient and keep luring the perpetrator into
goodness? This is exactly what God does. But how patient should God be? The day of reckoning must come,
not because God is too eager to pull the trigger, but because every day of patience in a world of violence means
more violence and every postponement of vindication means letting insult accompany injury. Gods patience
is costly, not simply for God, but for the innocent. First God suffers violence on the cross for the salvation of
the world. Then, after Gods patience with the chaotic powers who refuse to be redeemed by the cross has
come to an end, God inflicts violence against the stubbornly violent to restore creations original peace.

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Rev. 21:1, Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and
death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have
passed away.
(2) So when you hear Jesus saying, I have come to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!,
hear him saying, How I wish the new heavens and new earth were here now!
3. We now know this is coming revolution happens in two stages: (1) Stage Two is when Jesus returns and the
Revolution of God will be complete as God puts an end to all deception, injustice, and violence; and (2) Stage One is
when Jesus takes deception, injustice, and violence upon himself when he dies for the sins of the world.
50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished!
1. Jesus refers to his upcoming death as his baptism (Mark 10:35ff; cf. Rom. 6:1-4).
2. Jesus own reality check: great distress. Why? Because he is going to take evil upon himself on the Cross.
Kent Hughes, The artful butchery and prolonged torture were not what distressed him, but rather the necessity of
his taking on the raw sewage of our sinsso that he, in effect, would choke and drown in it and become the same
(cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21).
Os Guinness, Christianity is the only religion whose God bears the scars of evil.
Reality Check #2: Were confronted with a costly choice
51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52 From now on in
one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. 53 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.
1. Wait a minute! Didnt Jesus come to bring peace?
Didnt Zechariah tell us that the Messiah would guide our feet into the path of peace (Luke 1:79)?
Didnt Jesus on two occasions tell people to go in peace (7:50; 8:48)?
Didnt Jesus tell his disciples when they enter to pronounce Peace be to this house (10:5)?
2. The very mention of Jesus stirs controversy, heats emotions, and divides people. He was controversial in his
dayso much so that the religious leaders conspired with Rome to put Jesus to death. Hes controversial in our day.
E. Peterson, The Message, Do you think I came to smooth things over and make everything nice? No so. Ive
come to disrupt and confront.
This is because of the radical nature of Jesus and his radical message. I have come to call sinners to
repentance. I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6).
3. Jesus was and is a divisive person b/c he has a divisive message.
Illus #1: Voices of the Nations is a Christian singing group thatfor the first time in 5 yearswas denied a permit by
the city of Toronto to hold a concert because if youre praising Jesus is not allowed b/c that would be proselytizing.
Illus #2: Nabeel Qureshi, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus.
Illus #3:If I knew you were going to become a Christian, I would never have married you.
Dont be surprised if following Jesus costs relationships.
Reality Check #3: The Time Is Short
54 He also said to the crowds, When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, A shower is coming.
And so it happens. 55 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, There will be scorching heat, and it
happens. 56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, buy why do you not
know how to interpret the present time?
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1. You can tell tell from the change of weather that a storm is coming, but you cant read the signs of the times to
see that a different kind of storm is gathering.
2. Hypocrites = a hypocrite, an actor, an interpreter (Strongs Dictionary) // Mounce: implies hardness of heart,
utterly devoid of sincerity and seriousness.
Israel thought her biggest problem was the Romans (& they wanted a Messiah who would kick them out of
town). They didnt see that their biggest problem was spiritual. They like the Romans, and everyone else, had
sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
John 1:9-11, The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the
world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not
receive him.
57And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? 58 As you go with your accuser before the magistrate,
make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the
officer, and the officer put you in prison. 59 I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last
1. If we take this at face value, it seems like Jesus has shifted topics and is giving advice on how to avoid prison. But if
we take it in context, hes telling his audience and us that the Day of Judgment is coming, and we need to get
right with God before its too late.
2. But how do we settle our case with God before its too late?
(1) By agreeing with Jesus that we are guilty and morally responsible for our sins.
(2) By agreeing with Jesus that theres nothing we can do on our own to settle the case.
(3) By agreeing with Jesus that we need him to be our Advocate-Saviour, and to trust in him.
John 5:24, Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He
does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
So why does Luke record these controversial words of Jesus for us in his historical autobiography.
Because, even though Jesus may be divisive, he nevertheless is our only hope of salvation, even if it costs us our
friends and family. And so we must take him at his word and believe his message. We cannot afford to waver.
Reality Check: Jesus may be divisive, but he calls us to be decisive.
1. Jesus is the ultimate reality check: the most defining moment of your life: what will you do with Jesus?
Joshua 24:15, If it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve. But as for me and
my house, we will serve the Lord.
Jesus may be divisive, but he calls us to be decisive.
2. For those of us who follow Jesus, this certainly brings things into focus, doesnt it? Responding to Jesus means not
only receiving what he has to give su, but it means living for him.
Jonathan Edwards: Resolved, I will live for God, and if no one else does, I still will.
Jesus may be divisive, but he calls us to be decisive.
NCC, even though Jesus is divisive, may you be decisive
in your resolve to follow him no matter what,
rejoicing in the fact that b/c of him, you have passed from death to life.
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