For our session meeting tonight, we reflected on these words from Matthew:
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10: 34-39)
What does the Prince of Peace mean by “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”? This goes against so much of how we know Jesus throughout Scripture. One who oft quotes form the profit Isaiah who speaks of turning swords into plowshares, and one who in yesterday’s reading spoke of being wise as serpents and innocent as doves. What do you think?
To consider the greater context, Jesus is speaking to the disciples and preparing on what it means to follow him. He was specifically talking about persecution, bearing a cross, and finding life by losing it. In Jesus betrayal, when a disciple draws a sword to defend Jesus, Jesus responds “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (26:52)
There is much in our faith that is a paradox, like finding life is by losing it. A sword is the image in Revelations that is used metaphorically to speak of the power of the Word of God. In a text that speaks of God’s sovereignty, he is teaching that following is not an easy path. But a path that leads to finding life. And in finding life, we are alive.
In all the demands that the world places on us, and the desires that we are seeking, where do we place the importance of God in our life? As a parent, I can speak of the love I have for my children. One of our elders shared a story of a counselor advising her and her husband to not love her son so much. This was bothersome and they immediately changed counselors. It wasn’t until years later that they understood that loving their son was by letting go and letting him stumble. Letting him figure it out.
If we work on having our own house in order, isn’t this the same? In order, we love God, then family. And by sharing the perspective, we trust that God has everything in control.