In Luke 12:35-48, Jesus tells two parables about His return.
In the first, the master goes away to a wedding banquet and his servants are watchful, waiting for his return, preparing to welcome him home.
Jesus uses this to illustrate, “You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
Then, He tells the story of the faithful and wise manager who is put in charge of his master’s servants. He’ll be rewarded for his faithfulness. But suppose he mistreats the servants, gets drunk and abuses his master’s trust. What will be his fate? That servant will be punished as an unbeliever.
Jesus uses this to illustrate, “From everyone who has been given much, much will will be demanded.”
Then Jesus makes this jarring statement in Luke 12:49-50.
“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 how distressed I am until it is completed!”
First, for those who might think the cross was easy for Jesus because He is God, think again. As a man, knowing what He would face- the suffering, bearing our sin, being separated from the Father- Jesus was greatly distressed.
But what jars me is Jesus’ statement, “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!”
This is not the Sunday School image of Jesus, meek and mild, almost emasculated.
These are words you’d expect to hear from Clint Eastwood, from John Wayne, from Sylvester Stallone… words you could imagine in the script of Rocky, Die Hard, Rambo, Braveheart, the Avengers!
Jesus wants to strike the match and ignite judgement! Why so anxious for a moment that will eternally seal the fate of billions? Why so anxious for a moment that will separate families, some ushered into God’s eternal kingdom, others cast into the Lake of Fire?
Ultimately, Jesus wants to defeat His enemy. Our enemy. Satan would be dealt a mortal blow by the cross, by the empty tomb, but Jesus wants to finish him off. Jesus can see the deceit, the disgrace, the destruction. He wants to end it, to finish him off.
This is the image of Revelation 19:11-16.
“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice He judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on His head are many crowns. He has a name written on Him that no one knows but He himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and His name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following Him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of His mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On His robe and on His thigh He has this name written: King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”
To Satan, in the words of The Terminator, “I’ll be back!” The image of that moment, the ultimate defeat of evil, brings added motivation to be “watchful” and “faithful” servants of the Most High.
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