Jesus says: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth.
I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.“
Regardless of what the commercials say (the “easy” button) – It is not easy – we know that right? But we want it to be easy; we expect it to be easy – but it isn’t!
It’s not always easy in family situations; marriage; at work; with health issues; and certainly the “to do” list that we continue putting off!
Every time we gather together for worship we come with a variety of “not easy” situations and issues. So when we come to worship, what do we expect? / What CAN we expect?
– We can expect “divine power and direction” from God’s Word;
– We can expect “divine strength” from the forgiveness of sins, the reminder of your baptism and receiving Jesus’ true body and blood for the strengthening of your faith and daily life;
– We can expect “the peace of God that passes all understanding through Jesus Christ.”
Peace with God is what Jesus’ coming and God’s Word is all about. At Jesus’ birth the angels sang: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.” (Luke 2:14) This is in fulfillment of God’s promise through Isaiah, “He shall be called… Prince of Peace… the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 9:6; 53:5) The New Testament apostle Paul, writes in Romans 5:1 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
So, what does Jesus mean today as He speaks to His 12 disciples and to us: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” and “anyone who does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:34, 38-39)
Jesus is telling us plainly “Don’t expect it to be easy!” Rather, Jesus is teaching His disciples (and us) that because of the natural condition of sinful, hardened hearts and lives; because we live in a fallen world; when we live, act and speak as a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ, expect to be “swimming against the stream.” There may be divisions (even in families!) because of unwavering faith in Jesus Christ / there may be suffering: financial, social, personal loss and even death because of unwillingness to compromise the truth of Jesus (“take up your cross” “lose your life” in this temporary world but “keep eternal life” with Jesus.)
Jesus says, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” – because the saving relationship with Jesus means a radical exclusive change – in direct opposition to the world and popular opinion. For some of us this conflict because of our faith in Jesus is minor – and we thank God for this! But for some, especially unbelieving spouses or rebellious children, it is a “battle;” and particularly in Muslim and totalitarian countries, where confessing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, living as a Christian means being shunned by your family and may even mean imprisonment and death!
Now, please also note, this “sword” Jesus speaks about is NOT the Crusader’s sword (Muslim vs. Christian / ethnic cleansing) still happening in our world today – rather it is the powerful “Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.” (Ephesians 6:17) – that converts / changes / gives life. It is the Word of God that changes lives, that works “new life.”
So we are presented with a choice and a challenge. Our natural reaction might be: If standing up for my faith in Jesus and the truth of His Word is going to invite trouble, why not draw back and remain quiet? (“Look out for yourself, protect yourself, avoid trouble.”) Jesus knows this and clearly says: “Anyone who loves father or mother (son or daughter) more than Me is not worthy of Me.” Standing up for Jesus is more important that sitting down to a peaceful dinner with the family. Jesus wants us to know the reality / what we can expect when we live as His sons and daughters; it may mean the loss of “social peace” / uncomfortable situations with people close to us.
Now, it’s clear that we try to avoid antagonizing anyone, especially our family. Rather, as God’s Word tells us: “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud… If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:16-18) But as we do everything possible to “live at peace with everyone” we never compromise Jesus and His Word.
In fact, Christians need to be more loving, more patient, more accepting of non-Christian family members, co-workers and friends than we may otherwise be, since the love we receive from Christ enables us to display Christ-like love, whether or not it is returned. At times God will use such a loving, uncompromising witness as part of His way of bringing unbelievers to faith; they may be “won to Christ without words.” (1 Peter 3:1-2). Other times, God will use the loving, gentle, inviting and uncompromising words of the faithful Christian pointing to Jesus and His love, forgiveness and daily blessings!
What Do You Expect? Jesus’ love, direction and blessings as we remain faithful in His Word and Sacraments.
See you next weekend for more of God’s blessings through Jesus and His Word!