“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” – Luke 12:49 (USCCB, NABRE)
The other day (7/31) I was finally taking the time to read my Word Among Us and the communion antiphon was Luke 12:49. And I recognized the verse, but I was surprised by the last word — it said “kindled”.
My brain was ready for “blazing” so when I read “kindled” I paused. Doesn’t that severely change the meaning of this verse? I feel like there is a large difference between “kindled” and “blazing” — at least in terms of the visual I get when I picture those words. Kindling is light, there is a lot of it, it is what is used to start a fire but only exists before the fire really gets going – so when a fire is kindled it is sitting there with all the pieces ready to go but it isn’t yet burning -that is, it isn’t yet doing anything. “Blazing” on the otherhand means that the fire is already well established and unstoppable.
That was my main reflection, but I was curious as to which word seems to be a more accurate translation. I love the word “blazing” in there – it seems so powerful, so “of course you wish it were already blazing because a blazing fire is awesome!“. Kindling makes me sad. It makes me feel “oh there isn’t even a fire yet and not even enough kindling on it to start the fire. of course you would wish for it to already be kindled! kindling a fire is hard work!“.
Also, when a fire is already ablaze it is not too hard to keep it going — just add another log and it will catch. But to have to kindle a fire? Man that is hard work! There isn’t much there, it risks going out if it doesn’t catch just right, you have to really get intimate with the kindling to get it “agree” with you trying to light it and have it catch. But there is celebration in that first flame and then the flame that really catches and starts the burn!
…Wow this verse is so much deeper than I have ever thought!… I feel like this verse captures Jesus’ humanity and how he is trusting God to bring about everything God has told him he would do and have happen – but it seems like he is really struggling to see it and might be frustrated? Or how He is following God’s will but when he looks around he sees how much farther everyone must come along before the fire will take hold.
It looks like “kindled” is the more accurate translation? The word used here is ἀνήφθη (anēphthē) and it only occurs once in the New Testament — here in Luke 12:49. According to a footnote Google gave me from “The Gospel According to Luke” by James R. Edwards it is a Greek word but more of a Hebrew word? …I don’t understand all that… so I will need to learn more…
I was surprised to see so “kindled” win the day here in translations. Come on burning! Let’s Go Blazing!
Either way where we sit 2000 years later the fire Jesus set upon the earth has been “kindled” and has been “ablaze” and “blazing”. Because Jesus came and was baptized for us we are able to look back and with the perfect vision of hindsight see that he would accomplish the great fire he came to set. It’s now just our job to stay within that burning fire and add other people-logs to help them catch flame as well.
May God continue to kindle our love for Him within our hearts. Let us serve as kindling in God’s kingdom. Let us be ablaze and burn so hot and so brightly for Him that as we bring others closer to God they catch flame as well. May we all work together to keep the earth on fire for God. Amen.
Jesus: A Cause of Division.*49“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!50* There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!u51Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?v No, I tell you, but rather division.w52From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three;53a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”x