Not Peace but a Sword?

by Terry Wane Benton

What did Jesus mean here? Does it contradict other verses that show He came to bring peace on earth?

"Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law'; and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.' He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it" (Matthew 10:34-39 NKJV).

The “sword” here is a clear division between believers and unbelievers. Parents and children may be divided over whether Jesus is the Christ and deserves our full devotion. The sword is the word of God (Hebrews 4:12), not a carnal weapon (II Corinthians 10:4f), the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:10-18). The evidence calls for a clear verdict, forcing a division between those willing to face the evidence and those not (Acts 2:36-41). Sometimes, family members are not willing to face the truth, and that divides family members from family members.

Those who face the truth and arrive at the clear verdict will have peace within, the peace Jesus wants us all to enjoy, but getting to that peace involves breaking with the selfish and surrendering to the Lord and the truth. The sword of the Spirit comes first, then the peace within follows. The sword divides the old self from a new self, a new priority from an old priority, and a new relationship from old relationships. The sword of truth comes first, and some accept it, while some, even in our families, do not. Truth comes before peace, but both come through Jesus Christ. The truth of Jesus is a sword that divides and, afterward, delivers peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:4-6) in the remission of sins and the exceeding of great and precious promises.

Jesus came to bring peace to those who want it on His terms, but a sword of truth divides those who want it on His terms from those who want it on their own terms or don’t really want it at all. You must stand with Jesus if you want the truly wonderful peace within that He wants us all to have. You will lose out if other things and other relationships are most important to you. Has the sword of truth divided you from those who remain self-centered? A clear division must occur before God's peace can be yours.

Where do you stand?

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