Readings for the 13th Sunday after Pentecost

Luke 12:49-53; Hebrews 11:17-31 & 12:1-3; Jeremiah 23:16-29

“Tell me what I want to hear!” Isn’t that so often how we are as human beings? We fancy ourselves as wise and reasonable people who always want the truth. But when someone comes along speaking words that flatter our egos or confirm what we already knew to be the case, boy is it easy to swallow – truth or not.

Jesus did not come all the way down from heaven just to flatter us or tell us what we already knew. He came to save us – liberate us – from every sinful deception that would threaten our abundant life with God. And that requires him to tell us the truth, even when we don’t want to hear it. Even when that truth unsettles us and humbles us.

Listen for the hard truths in Sunday’s readings. “I came to cast fire on the earth,” Jesus says. Thus he warned his disciples of the division and rejection they would experience as they preached a crucified Christ to a dying world (Luke 12). “Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” Most prophets in Jeremiah’s day didn’t dare speak the real Word of God because it warned of a coming judgment day when God would hold people accountable for their sins (Jer 23). The epistle lesson is a bright spot, offering us a much needed dose of encouragement through the recollection of the intrepid faith of our spiritual ancestors (Heb 11).