“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
As we enter the Christmas season, this verse is one that should be addressed. It should be addressed because it flies in the face of everything we tend to think and believe about Jesus. After all, isn’t he the Prince of Peace?
Jesus is absolutely the Prince of Peace. We know that, by his death and resurrection, he stands victorious over sin, death, and the devil. We know that, being justified by faith, we have peace with God. And we know that, in the end, those who’ve received the grace of God will live in a state of absolute peace. We will live in a place where there is no more death or mourning or crying or pain.
However, in the meantime, Jesus has come not to bring peace, but a sword. He goes on to say that he’s come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. He says that a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.
Many of us have seen this truth play out first hand. Often, there are some members of a family who have faith in Christ and others who don’t. And this difference places them at odds with one another.
An extreme example I witnessed was a Pakistani who studied at the same college I attended. He had come to faith in Christ and was baptized. And, because of this, he was disowned by his family.
We don’t typically experience anything this extreme. However, members of our family often fail to understand our faith in Christ. They are often less than accepting of the way that we live our life. And this makes our family life less than harmonious.
Jesus doesn’t desire to disrupt our families. But this is a natural result when some possess faith in Christ and others do not. It’s a natural result when some reject the gospel and the salvation Christ has provided for them.
For this reason, Jesus reminds us in verses 37-38 that we must love him above all else. He tells us that if we love father or mother more than him, we’re not worthy of him. If we love son or daughter more than him, we’re not worthy of him. And if we love our own life more than him, we’re not worthy of him.
As we face this sword, as we encounter this kind of division in our family, we must remain faithful to Christ. Regardless of the impact that it has upon our family life, we must remain true to him. Yes, we must love our family as well. But our love for them must not cause us to compromise our faith. It must not pull us away from the Lord.