Luke 12:49–53, Luke 14:31–35, Luke 19:32–38 (read online ⧉)
Jesus has the title of Prince of Peace, yet our first passage today from Luke certainly causes one to question that. Some scholars align this with the Jewish zealot party, which sought the overthrow of the Roman Empire in Israel by (primarily) violent methods. However, it is prefaced by fire. Again, it sounds strange, unless we recognize that this is a cleansing and purifying fire. The sad truth is that many will be confronted with Jesus’ words and make a decision that has the potential to destroy relationships. This is the division that Jesus brings. Some will follow Jesus, the rest will follow the world.
The title of Prince of Peace should probably be written more properly, the Prince (of the people who live by and call on and believe in the name of the Lord) of Peace (knowing that the Creator of the Universe is overall). It’s a lot wordier, but it helps us understand the seeming conflict between Jesus’ title and the first words we read.
Certainly, war would not be the function of the Prince of Peace, would it? Yet, here Jesus uses that analogy. It’s not because Jesus desires war, but because the people were surrounded by war and its legends, meaning that this was an effective way to speak to people. On the other hand, we could look at it as the weaker party (us) seeking peace with the stronger party (God), and, oddly enough, the negotiation and sealing of that agreement is through Jesus Christ.
The reality is that the ultimate culmination of peace will not happen here. Peace is in Heaven. However, when we spend time meditating on God’s word about peace, and meditating on who Jesus is (the Prince of Peace), we receive God’s peace here on earth.
1) What are your thoughts about flame being a purifying image? What concept, if any, in Christianity is symbolized by a flame? How do they work together?
2) Does it bother you that Jesus uses war imagery to make a point? Why or why not?
3) If the ultimate peace only happens in Heaven, why pursue it here on earth?