In a fallen world, divine revelation is divisive. The substance of the Fall was turning away from the heart-led way of obedience to God, and choosing to trust in human capabilities to discern truth. Thus, the whole world is born without the leadership of the heart in matters of morality. It was the choice to become one’s own god. To then hear the calling of our Creator and turn back to the heart-led way of living makes you a target of the wrath of those convinced you have betrayed human dignity, among other things.
Jesus was divine revelation personified. His teachings called for a return to living by the convictions the Father burns into our hearts. He called for training the mind to surrender and obey the truth from the heart. This was a return to something Jewish leaders had long rejected, so it constituted a revolution, a radical restoration of the ancient Hebrew ways that de-emphasize trusting human reason as a source of truth.
His teaching was a fiery and divisive gospel message. It was the purpose of His life. The image of fire represented the Holy Spirit, to be sure. However, it also represented the fire of persecution that comes from listening to the Holy Spirit speak in your heart. It would set fire to your life in both ways. Jesus was eager to get on with the mission, wishing that the fire had already been kindled.
But there was one more intervening step before He could send that fire. He referred to it as a baptism, a common figure of speech for a hellish testing. But instead of hesitating, He felt driven hard to make it happen. He was actually eager for His trial and crucifixion. It was the whole reason He lived, and this was how His Messianic Kingdom would be born.
The conflict was necessary. Did anyone imagine the Messiah would somehow bring peace to fallen mankind? By no means! This was not the end of the fallen world, but the opening of a spiritual kingdom not of this world. Their hearts would be conquered first, long before this world was finished. Otherwise, no one could enter. And the hearts would fall to Him one at a time, individually, based on nothing that humans could understand. Thus, human family households would be divided.
All the old human loyalties of the past would no longer matter. The new kingdom would transcend such things, resting entirely on a changed heart.