If family members turn against God or have never turned to him, and we side with them to please them, we are siding against Jesus. The Lord gives grace, for there is nothing sweeter and more delightful than knowing Jesus. We are not to make our families an object of idolatry. Families are wonderful, but we are prepared to meet Jesus only if he is first in our hearts.
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).
The need for faithfulness and obedience as disciples (12:35–48) is followed by the purpose of Jesus’ mission. In saying that he has come to cast fire on the earth that he wishes were kindled now, Jesus certainly refers to judgment. In the OT fire often designates judgment. For instance, Jeremiah’s words are as fire that consumes the people (Jer. 5:14; 23:29; cf. Sir. 48:1).
Amos warns Israel to seek the Lord, lest he “break out like fire” (Amos 5:6). On the other hand, in Luke fire also refers to the transforming work of the Spirit (Acts 2:3), and in Isaiah 4:4 the Spirit as fire both cleanses and purifies. Thus both ideas are likely present here. Jesus, as in the next verse, anticipates his death and resurrection, the consummation of his work. The final day of judgment will not come immediately, but judgment and salvation are inaugurated when Jesus’ work on earth is completed.
Jesus Came to Bring Together
The reference to baptism looks forward to the cross, to the great saving and judging event of Jesus’ ministry.