Day 12: “Was Jesus a Peacemaker?” 08.16.18
Matthew 5:9 (NIV) “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”
Matthew 10:34-36 (NIV) 34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law– 36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’”
Is this confusing? Perhaps. Actually…yes. Why would the Lord Jesus Christ commend peacemaking and expect his own disciples to be peacemakers…but deny that he himself had come to bring peace? In fact, if he wants us to be peacemakers why would he say that he came to bring a “sword?” If we are to be Christlike, shall we all go out and buy swords? Shall we become dividers of families? That certainly does not sound like peacemaking. Let’s ponder this puzzling dichotomy. Are these statements internally contradictory? No.
Jesus is saying there is one type of peace that we, his disciples, may never be able to make. It is the lack of peace that often comes when we follow him. He is warning us that while we have a heart for peace we may find it unattainable in one circumstance. Our Christian faith will give us inner peace but may cost us outer peace…with our own families. And friends.
At times, I think the Bible-believing church has fallen into the error of mis-representing Jesus. Worldly people are willing to say that Jesus was certainly very nice. A gentle and decent man who only wanted us to all get along. A man who was rejected tragically and wrongly. But certainly not the Son of God. That is all nonsense but often the church presents him in the same way. Only focusing on his forgiving nature and putting up posters in the children’s wing of the church. Jesus is always smiling and carrying a lamb on his shoulders. He really is, to many Christians, our dependable big brother who never has a harsh word.
Such portrayals are unfaithful to the real Jesus of Scripture. In many ways, Jesus was brutally honest and terribly upsetting. After all, his enemies did not Crucify him because he was “nice.” And he did not just upset the religious rulers of his day. He upset everyone! The irony is that while he expects those who come to him to be peacemakers, he himself was not a peacemaker…except between sinners and God. So, he said:
34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law– 36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’”
Here is the very difficult truth. If Jesus is not first in my life, then Jesus is not in my life! I cannot let friendships with unspiritual people or even affection with my own family come before Jesus. As a Pastor, I have seen again and again where a relationship with Christ divides like a sword. A young Jewish woman becomes a Messianic Jew and her family disowns her. An athlete has a born-again experience and finds many of his teammates no longer include him in their lives. It should be expected.
Why does Jesus divide? Because an honest and close look at the things he said are DIVISIVE! Consider these examples:
John 14:6 (NIV) Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Matthew 10:37-39 (NIV) 37 “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
John 8:24 (NIV) “I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am [the one I claim to be], you will indeed die in your sins.”
It is always the smart and thinking person who rejects us because he rejects Christ. Think about it with me. What are we really saying to the unbeliever…however sweetly we try to say it? “I have met God through His son Jesus Christ and I have received eternal life. You need to look into this because if you do not receive Christ, you will spend eternity separated from God in Hell?” Ok. We may not say it that way but people understand what we mean. And they are offended by that truth and they think that WE THINK we are more suited for heaven than they are…and they take great umbrage. Jesus is a divider.
Allow me to recommend the great Christian classic Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. In his book, Christian goes off alone on his journey to the Celestial City. His wife and children have no interest. He accepts that his relationship with them and with his friends is apparently over. Jesus offers us peace with the eternal God but predicts breakage with unbelievers including family. So…can we say with the Psalmist: ???
Psalm 84:10 (NIV) “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell inside the tents of the wicked.”
Peace. And at times breakage. Pastor Alberta