Knee Jerk Devotional: November 2, 2020

Luke 12:49-59

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash


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 what constraint I am under until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, 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 daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

He said to the crowd: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does. And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It’s going to be hot,’ and it is. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?

“Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right? As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled on the way, or your adversary may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.”

“Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right?”

This question struck me this morning.

Contextually, Jesus is talking about everyday people suing one another. He’s arguing for them to handle the issue between themselves instead of giving themselves over to the power of the state.

But, here we are the day before the election.

Everyone is clamoring to tell one another who to vote for and why.
There is a growing sense of angst, fear, and worry.
The gas lighting and virtue signaling is out of control.
The identity politics are in full swing.

But, here’s the deal. We can judge for ourselves what is right.

We actually can.
You actually can.

At the end of the day what matters is your conscience. Did you vote in good faith? Did you take your responsibility in the process seriously? If your conscience is clear then you have done well.

There is nobody that can clear your conscience for you. You must judge for yourself what is right.

Just like the two people in the dispute that Jesus is talking to above, reconcile your conscience in this civic matter and continue moving toward grace, mercy, justice, and truth.

Friends, regardless of what happens in an election on Tuesday the systems and powers that have created injustice in our world will remain. There will be work to do to expand grace, mercy, justice, and truth in this world. That work is not done or completed by filling in a scantron bubble in a voting booth. That is but a very small piece of the puzzle.

Loving well is not told in the story of your votes. It is told in the story of your day to day action. Your love well story is ultimately displayed by how you enter into the reality of the relationships surrounding you and being an agent of reconciliation.


This passage is set in a broader context that begins in verse 35. Jesus is teaching about the “eschatological future.” That is, the end. He’s teaching about what will happen when the Kingdom of God comes in its fullness, this commonly referred to as the “second coming of Christ.” The talk about division and the like is pointing to the reality of the new creation that is inaugurated at the consummation. When you read through Genesis 1, you see the creative act and it is all about deciding and dividing. That language is never used in Genesis again.

Jesus here is painting this picture that the new creation that is coming will transcend the old order. There is a division that will take place prior to the coming of Christ, just like in the first creation. This is due to people placing their trust in the Christ above all relationships including familial. Jesus demonstrates this when his mother and brothers come to take him home and he says, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother. (Mark 3:31)”

While this language is discomforting in our inclusive culture, we must move beyond our comfort and try to understand what Jesus is saying here. I don’t think he’s talking about the difference between the “damned and the chosen.” I agree with James Edwards in his commentary on Luke that what Jesus is doing here is reference Micah 7 and that as people more closely identify with the Messiah it is going to amplify the divisions that already exist so as to point toward grace. Edwards briefly argues that this is the case that Paul is making Romans 9-11, regarding Israel.

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