The Lord's Longing to be Released Through Death, Life-Study of Luke, Message Thirty, pp. 253-255
THE MINISTRY OF THE MAN-SAVIOR
IN HIS HUMAN VIRTUES
WITH HIS DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
FROM GALILEE TO JERUSALEM
Scripture Reading: Luke 12:49-59
THE LORD'S LONGING TO BE RELEASED
In 12:1-48 the Man-Savior warned His disciples of the hypocrisy of religion (vv. 1-12), covetousness (vv. 13-34), and concerning watchfulness and faithfulness (vv. 35-48). Then in 12:49-53 He expressed the longing to be released through His death. Here we see that the Lord aspired to be fully released from the bondage of His flesh. This short portion of the Word is very deep, and we need adequate spiritual experience in order to understand it.
When I was in Shanghai more than fifty years ago, I read a book by brother T. Austin-Sparks entitled The Release of the Lord. That book made reference to 12:49 and 50. The writer pointed out that the Lord, in His incarnation was bound and concealed in His flesh. He was God, and He had the divine life as His essence, strength, and power. Nevertheless, He was concealed in His humanity, which was a restriction to His divine being. Therefore, He needed to be released through death; that is, He desired that His divine being would be released through death.
Luke 12:49 and 50 correspond to John 12:24: "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." Here the Lord likens Himself to a grain of wheat. If a grain of wheat does not fall into the earth and die, it will abide alone and remain the same. But when it falls into the ground and dies, the death of that grain releases the life within it. We may say that death becomes a release to the inner life of the grain of wheat. Through such a release, the riches of the life of the grain of wheat come forth to produce many grains. The Lord Jesus as a grain of wheat fell into the ground and lost His soulish life through death so that He might release His eternal life in resurrection to the many grains.
When we compare John 12:24 with Luke 12:49 and 50, we see that both portions of the Scriptures describe the release of the divine life, or the release of the divine being of the Lord's Person. As God, the Lord Jesus possessed the unlimited eternal life. However, this unlimited life was greatly restricted and restrained in His humanity, in His flesh. Therefore, the Lord was anxious and desirous for the release of His divine life. Once the divine life was released from within Him, He could impart it into His many believers. This is the basic thought in 12:49-53.
COMING TO CAST FIRE ON EARTH
In 12:49 the Lord Jesus says, "I came to cast fire on the earth, and what can I desire if it has already been kindled?" This "fire" is the impulse of the spiritual life, which comes from the Lord's released divine life and which causes the divisions mentioned in verses 51 through 53. In these verses we see that there will be divisions even in the families of the believers. These divisions come from the fire which is the impulse of the spiritual life, and this impulse comes from the Lord's released divine life. His life was concealed, and the Lord wanted it to be released. He wanted the fire to burst into flame.
In verse 49 the Lord says, "What can I desire if it has already been kindled?" This part of the verse may also be rendered, "How I wish that it were already kindled!" This indicates that the fire was not kindled before the Lord's death. We know from the record in the book of Acts that after the Lord's death this fire became a flame.
PRESSED UNTIL HIS BAPTISM IS ACCOMPLISHED
In 12:50 the Lord goes on to say, "But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how I am pressed until it is accomplished!" The word "baptism" here reminds us of the Lord's word to James and John in Mark 10:38: "Are you able to drink the cup which I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?" Both the cup and the baptism refer to the Lord's death. The cup signified that His death was the God-given portion for Him to take for the sinners whom He would redeem for God. Baptism denoted that His death was the God-ordained way for Him to pass through for the accomplishment of God's redemption for sinners.
The Greek word rendered "pressed" in Luke 12:50 may also be translated "constrained." The Lord was constrained in His flesh, which He put upon Himself in His incarnation. He needed to die, to be baptized, in physical death so that His unlimited and infinite divine being with His divine life might be released from His flesh. His divine life, after being released through His physical death, became the impulse of His believers' spiritual life in resurrection...