In Luke 12:49-56, Jesus challenges our thinking with three provocative statements summed up by the words "fire," "baptism" and "division." If these were the only words of Jesus we had, you'd think he was talking about an American political campaign! We're forced to interpret them in light of other things he said. Here is my take: "Fire" can destroy, warm, light the way or fuel great things. Maybe Jesus means all of that and more. He wasn't killed for being bland but clearly challenged as much as comforted. Martin Luther caught this when he divined how the Word of God works in our hearts – sometimes as Law (what we should do or shouldn't and didn't) and Gospel (good news, forgiveness, promise). That would explain why the "fire of God's truth" has a way of stirring things up, saving, inspiring, confronting, even destroying – no wonder Jesus causes divisions. That's not his point, but in a sinful world, that's what will sometimes happen. His "baptism" refers to his coming immersion in the human condition – his death on the cross and resurrection. Interesting that he speaks of "stress" in anticipating it.
– Pastor Peter Strommen