There's a grim flavour to Jesus' words today. On Friday, we were introduced to the idea of The End. Today, Jesus is talking in the light of the coming darkness, and it's hard to find anything to be cheerful about.
First, he talks about arguments and divisions. He envisions families torn apart, some for him, some against. This is what I've come to do - split you down the middle. These are agonising words for someone like me, whose instinct is always to hold people together, to stitch up and mend any breach. It reminds me of the words of Ecclesisastes: "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:" " a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them," "a time to tear and a time to mend."
Jesus is clearly thinking the time has come to tear, not to mend. People are making up their minds about him - he can't go on appealing and inviting for ever. Those who have set themselves against him will have their way, and have their day. But as the Easter story we have just lived through reminds us, their part of the story is not The End.
So before The End comes - Jesus wants us to be ready. Look at the signs of the times! he tells his disciples. Be alert! Don't plod along thinking tomorrow is going to be the same as today. You're on your way to the judge. Do you really think you're innocent?
But if you think you're guilty, now is the time to make amends, before the judge pronounces sentence and the prison doors clang shut.