d) Division as a Result of Preaching (Matthew 10:34-39)
34 Don’t think that I came to send peace on the earth. I didn’t come to send peace, but a sword. (Micah 7:6; Luke 12:51-53)
Jesus is the prince of peace, and His followers are called peacemakers. In the gospel, we read the word “peace” about 100 times, but why does Jesus say He came to bring a sword and not peace? This means, first, that whoever enters the violent struggle against sin denies himself and dies to himself. You cannot serve God and yourself at the same time. You either hate the first and cling to the second or love the first and part from the second. Jesus wants to call up your will that you may overcome and leave your sin by your Lord’s power.
Second, to draw the sword of Jesus means that we do not use it to destroy His enemies, since He never took a sword in His hand, nor shed blood. He that penetrates into the book of Acts cannot find any mention of a battle between the people of the kingdom and the Jews on one hand, or the Gentiles, on the other. Yet, this historical book testifies to us that the world authorities used the sword against members of the churches to satisfy the religious leaders and the fanatic.
Christ did not permit any killing or bloodshed for the sake of His spiritual kingdom! Our religion is not based on the sword, but on love and respect. Every Christian that breaks this principle is condemned. Jesus did not avoid spiritual struggle, but prepared His disciples to the severe fight against evil spirits, that they would not flee when such a war becomes hot during the spiritual fight. Paul, the apostle, wrote that we shall overcome the forts of evil with faith and love (Ephesians 6:16 and Romans 12:21). We ask God to completely destroy these forts of false religion and philosophy because of the offenses and disasters they bring to men.
Charles H. Spurgeon, a man of faith, was once mockingly and contemptibly invited by an artist to introduce to the opening ceremony of a lewd center. The pastor responded to the invitation wearing his dress as a pastor. When the opening ceremony was about to begin, the pastor stood and addressed the audience saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, you invited me to attend the opening and I responded to your invitation, so let me open this meeting with prayer.” The audience was shocked and surprised. They looked at each other perplexed, but the pastor, paying no attention to their astonishment, prayed, “O Lord, You are present in all places, and You see what these people are willing to do. I ask you to interfere with Your authority and stop this madness, that they can not persist in it spreading this sin into our society among the young and the old,” then he ended his prayer with “Amen, O Lord,” said good-bye to everyone and left.
One year later, a severe misunderstanding and dispute arose among those in charge of the theater. The theater was closed, and this work was stopped.
How far are most of the religious leaders today from Spurgeon. They do not bend their little finger against ugly pornographic programs whether on the television or in movies. We find some of them joining their ceremonies and occasions, on the pretext of openness and modernization. They pretend to have forgotten the role with which their Lord entrusted them when He said, “You are the salt of the earth; if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men” (Matthew 5:13).
Most of Christ’s speeches aimed at preparing His messengers to reply orally and bear the attacks. To Christ, the sword symbolized the fighting against the evil powers that threatens every body and wishes to dominate us.
The Jews thought that Christ came to give all His followers wealth, fame and power in this world. “No,” said Christ, “I did not come to grant you peace; peace in heaven you may be sure of, but not peace on earth.” Christ came to give us true peace with God, lasting peace in our consciences, real peace with our brothers, but “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33). In the last days peace will be taken completely from the earth (Revelation 6:4) until the Prince of Peace finally arrives.
35 For I came to set a man at odds against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 A man’s foes will be those of his own household. 37 He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me isn’t worthy of me. (Deuteronomy 13:7-12; 33:9; Luke 14:26-27)
Jesus knows all who accept His name and abide in Him. He endeavors to draw them out of the bond of their clan, and out of nest of their favorite family, or out of the culture of their people. He knows that the blood relationship is often stronger and more valuable according to the customs than religion is, and neighbors would not let their relative follow Jesus easily. They choose to live in deviousness and impurity rather than be born again in Jesus.
Those of the tender sex shall become persecutors and persecuted. The mother will be against her believing daughter, where natural affection and filial duty, one would think, should prevent or quickly resolve the quarrel. No marvel then if the daughter-in-law be against the mother-in-law, where, too often, the coldness of love seeks occasion of contention. In general, “a man’s enemies will be those of his own household” (v. 36). They who should be his friends will be incensed against him for embracing Christianity, and especially for adhering to it when it comes to be persecuted, and will join with his persecutors against him.
In His sermon on spreading the divine kingdom, Jesus testified twice that the severest pain a man can experience in life is his separation from his family by reason of honoring the name of Jesus. Our membership of God’s family is more important than our continuance in the earthly family. When your parents and neighbors prevent you from following Jesus, you ought to obey God rather than men for Creatures cannot be obeyed in their disobedience to the Creator. Sometimes the parents suffer! They love their children and exert pressure on them to leave Jesus and join the anti-Christ party, but God’s love overcomes even our emotions.
He who goes through these trials deserves our prayers, support and fellowship in every respect, since we became his new family after he had left his relatives and kindred.
PRAYER: O Holy Father, we thank You because You love all men, especially those who face persecution and violence because of their faith in Your Son Jesus. You are their spiritual Father! Please give them the wisdom on how to behave with their relatives, that they may humble themselves, love their relatives, serve them and live together with them under the kind Spirit of Christ. Open to Your persecuted children the door of joining Your divine family, that they may not live isolated and persecuted, but protected and loved in the fellowship of the saints.
QUESTION 109: How should the converted behave with his family, which persecutes him because of his faith in Jesus?