Daily Devotional: Day 71
“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’” (Matthew 10:34-36, NKJV).
Contrary to popular opinion, the Gospel of Jesus Christ doesn’t (or shouldn’t) always lead to unity and peace. In fact, as Jesus tells us today, he didn’t come to bring peace on earth. That’s startling, coming from One who is the Prince of Peace. This doesn’t mean that Jesus doesn’t care about the world. We know, of course, that Jesus died to save the world, because he cares about the world and wants everyone to be saved. The point he is making in today’s reading is that his message – the Gospel – can be divisive. That’s true.
Jesus doesn’t give us a sugar-coated, politically correct Gospel intended to make everyone feel good. Yes, sometimes, his message is soothing; but other times, it can be downright offensive. Let’s keep in mind certain fundamental principles: (a) truth doesn’t always bring about unity; truth can cause division. Additionally, (b) truth doesn’t always lead to peace; truth can lead to conflict. Herein lies the crux of Jesus’ message to us today. Not all unity is from God; and not all “peace” is from him, either, because there’s such a thing as false unity or false peace.
Jesus wants to dispel any false expectations people have about the nature and consequences of his Gospel. He says, metaphorically, of course, that he brought a “sword” to the earth. This means his message divides and splits the same way a sword can divide and split things. Recall that after his birth, the baby Jesus was presented in the temple in Jerusalem to perform for him the necessary rites prescribed by the law (See Exodus 13:2, 11-15). At the temple, Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2: 21-35). Jesus’ message caused some in Israel to stumble; at the same time, it caused others to rise, depending on how each person received the message.
There’s a lesson here for us who have been entrusted with sharing the Gospel of Christ. Jesus isn’t asking us to seek unity or peace at all cost. Our primary mission is to proclaim the unadulterated truths of God taught in the Bible. If our proclamation of the truth leads to unity, to God be the glory. If, however, the proclamation of the truth results in division and conflict, we shouldn’t worry. We’ve done our duty; we should let Jesus worry about the rest.
Dear Father, thank you for revealing the Gospel to us. Give the Body of Christ wisdom and boldness to proclaim your truth. And bless us with unity that is based on truth. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
For further study: John 6:41-69