(10) Jesus said: I have cast fire upon the world, and behold I guard it until it is ablaze.
I chose just one of the sayings. I can’t say that I understand what it means but the image of fire is arresting … it can be positive (gives light, warmth, cleanses) or it can be negative (the destruction of “hell fire”). Below are some thoughts …
There is a similar passage in Luke (12:49), though the tense is different …. “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” …. the NAB interprets the line this way – Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom is a refining and purifying fire. His message that meets with acceptance or rejection will be a source of conflict and dissension even within families.
A not quite as positive image that also comes to mind is that of the fires of Gehenna … The Valley of Hinnom had a very horrendous history in ancient times. It was used as a place where the pagan worshipers did all sorts of vile and wicked things – including burning children alive as sacrifices to the idols Moloch and Baal … the Jews turned the Hinnom Valley into the city dump where garbage and anything deemed unclean (including the bodies of executed criminals) was incinerated.
Hearts On Fire … I prefer to think Jesus’ reference was a positive one rather than one of destruction. Maybe it could be best described by a couple of guys on the road to Emmaus … Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he (Jesus) spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” – Luke 24:32