You can interpret a rising cloud to mean rain or a southern wind to mean heat, Jesus says. Why don’t you understand what’s happening right now? Don’t you see what I am doing?
Just before, Jesus said: “Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! … father against son … mother against daughter … mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law … .”[i] Though shocking now, family was everything, more powerful than in our current western context. Jesus invites radical change, creating a new community contrary to familial, social, and cultural norms. Discipleship invites conflict and division.
Mennonite pastor Melissa Florer-Bixler wrote: “The peacemaking Jesus intends for the disciples invites conflict in every aspect of our lives. Throughout the gospels, Jesus models this in a life of making enemies. The sword of Jesus’ good news is one that pierces natural alliances. Instead of focusing on the family, Jesus draws together those who were separated by ethnic and social hierarchies … .”[ii] God’s kingdom reorders relationships and creates one community where all belong.
Where does “the sword of Jesus’ good news” pierce you today? Where are you resisting conflict, going with the flow, maintaining cultural alliances and norms? Perhaps seeking more wealth and hoarding it for self-preservation. Perhaps striving after attention and praise. Perhaps staying silent about injustice including poverty, racism, and the climate emergency.
Why not judge for yourselves what is right? Jesus says. Don’t be conformed and trapped. You can determine what is right without the cultural and familial norms.[iii] You yourself can repent, turn around.
By a cloud, you know it will rain. With the wind, you know heat is coming, Jesus says. Don’t you see what I’m doing? Don’t you see these fisherman, tax collectors, and Samaritans? Against family and empire, I’m creating a radical new community. Turn around, and come with me.
[i] Luke 12:51, 53
[ii] Melissa Florer-Bixler (2021) How to Have an Enemy: Righteous Anger & the Work of Peace. Harrison, VA: Herald Press, p115.
[iii] Paul Borgman (2006) The Way according to Luke: Hearing the Whole Story of Luke-Acts. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, p190.
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