Matthew 10:34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I came not 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.’”
Jesus said in Matthew 5:9 blessed are the peacemakers, who will be called the Children of God. Doesn’t it seem like these ideas are at odds with each other? They’re not. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, tells the disciples directly that he did not come to bring peace, rather the means of peacemaking we are to use.
We see this a lot, like when the apostle Paul instructs the church in Ephesus to combat spiritual warfare (warfare – often necessary to bring peace to oppressed people and certainly people are oppressed spiritually) to “take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
Why is the Word a sword? Hebrews 4:12 – “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intensions of the heart.”
The sword, we may understand, is from the Prince of Peace (Jesus) who is the Word made flesh living among us. The sword is the Spirit, and the sword divides and judges. It separates that which must not remain connected for our own good. The Word of God is sharper than any double-edged sword, more effective at dividing what is good from what is not, AND that same Word divides the people Jesus dwelt with! Just as it divides us today! Even when we can agree on what it says, we may not agree on how we feel about what it says. And yet, we are to get to the heart of the matter.
The Word of God tells us to “fear not” and to “believe” especially when it’s hard to let go of fear and hold onto belief. We know that the world has not experienced peace all together, not before Jesus’ birth or since his Resurrection and Ascension. Proof that Jesus said what he meant and meant what he said. Jesus instructs us to strive toward peace. We are to be the peacemakers, grounded in the Word of God.
Our world isn’t much different since Jesus walked the dusty streets of Jerusalem for the last time. Enemies are made because of him. Families blow up over him. The Prince of Peace trained, authorized, and commissioned disciples to go out and be messengers of peace. To go to those willing to receive the Word for themselves and, when the people would not listen, Jesus instructs in Matthew 10:13-14 to shake the dust off their feet and move on to bring light to more of those who will.
Jesus was perceived as a powder keg, an agent of chaos, by some. Yet, the Prince of Peace calls his followers not to be powder kegs leaving chaos in their wake. Matthew 28:19-20 – “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
Are you willing to make peace where you are able and allow Jesus to be the One who divides? Living that tension is difficult. But we are never alone in the process. Holy Spirit goes with us. Ask God to help you accept and better understand that built-in tension and the need to introduce people to Jesus. Pray for the people in your life who do not yet know him and the peace He offers every human heart. We are to live into the call of peacemaking together and make an eternal difference in the lives of all who will receive. But we do not know who they are until we activate the peacemaker and disciple in ourselves.
With hands to the plow,