³⁴Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.
³⁵For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; ³⁶and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.
³⁷He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
Think not that I am come to send peace.
Truth appears again in the form of seeming paradox.
Christ is “our peace” (Ephesians 2:14), and came to be the one great Peacemaker; and yet the consequences of His work involved strife and division.
These consequences are freely accepted for the sake of the greater good that lies beyond it
Because the prophets have spoken glorious things of the peace and happiness of the world under the reign of the Messiah, the Prince of peace, you may imagine that I am come to put the world into that happy state immediately; and that universal peace will be the immediate consequence of my coming.
But this is far from being the case:
For, though the nature of His government will produce abundant peace and joy, as His message breathes nothing but love, men will not lay aside their enmity, nor will they exercise a mutual friendship among themselves as soon as the gospel is preached to them.
No; because of their wickedness they will make the gospel itself an occasion of bitter dissensions that it will look as if I had not come to send peace, but a sword among men.
For, as Jesus told us before, the nearest relations shall quarrel among themselves, and both public and private divisions will follow wheresoever my gospel comes with power.
Yet, observe well, this is not the design, though it be the event of his coming, through the opposition of devils and men to His truth and the blessed effects of it.
And the foes of a man that is converted to Jesus, and loves and follows Him, shall be those of his own household; Persons of his own family, or such that are nearly related to him.
In Matthew 10:16-42 Our Lord warned his disciples to prepare for persecution.
They were to avoid
▪︎ all things which gave advantage to their enemies,
▪︎ all meddling with worldly or political concerns,
▪︎ all appearance of evil or selfishness,
▪︎ and all underhand measures.
Christ foretold troubles, not only that the troubles might not be a surprise, but that they might confirm their faith.
He tells them what they should suffer, and from whom.
Thus Christ has dealt fairly and faithfully with us, in telling us the worst we can meet with in his service; and he would have us deal so with ourselves, in sitting down and counting the cost.
Persecutors are worse than beasts, in that they prey upon those of their own kind.
The strongest bonds of love and duty, have often been broken through from enmity against Christ.
Sufferings from friends and relations are very grievous; nothing cuts more.
It appears plainly, that all who will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution; and we must expect to enter into the kingdom of God through many tribulations.
With these predictions of trouble, are counsels and comforts for a time of trial.
The disciples of Christ are hated and persecuted as serpents, and their ruin is sought, and they need the serpent’s wisdom.
Be ye harmless as doves.
Not only, do nobody any hurt, but bear nobody any ill-will.
There must be prudent care, but not an anxious, perplexing thought; let this care be cast upon God.
The disciples of Christ must think more how to DO well, than how to SPEAK well.
In case of great peril, the disciples of Christ may go out of the way of danger, though they must not go out of the way of duty.
No sinful, unlawful means may be used to escape; for then it is not a door which is opened by God.
The fear of man brings a snare,
▪︎ a perplexing snare, that disturbs our peace;
▪︎ an entangling snare, by which we are drawn into sin;
and, therefore, it must be striven and prayed against.
Tribulation, distress, and persecution cannot take away God’s love to you, or your love to Him.
Fear Him, who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
We must continue to deliver the message publicly, for all are deeply concerned in the doctrine of the gospel. The whole counsel of God must be made known (Acts 20:27).
Christ shows them why they should be of good cheer.
Their sufferings witnessed against those who oppose his gospel.
When God calls us to speak for Him, we may depend on Him to teach us what to say.
A believing prospect of the end of our troubles, will be of great use to support us under them. They may be borne to the end, because the sufferers shall be borne up under them. The strength shall be according to the day. And it is a great encouragement to those who are doing Christ’s work, that it is a work which shall certainly be done.
See how the care of Providence extends to all creatures, even to the sparrows. This should silence all the fears of God’s people; Ye are of more value than many sparrows. And the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
This denotes the account God takes and keeps of his people. It is our duty, not only to believe in the Christ, but to profess that faith, in suffering for him, when we are called to it, as well as in serving him.
That denial of Christ only is here meant which is persisted in, and that confession only can have the blessed recompence here promised, which is the real and constant language of faith and love.
Your relationship with God is worth every thing; all who believe the truth of it, will come up to the price, and make every thing else yield to it.
Christ will lead us through sufferings, to glory with him.
Those are best prepared for the life to come, that sit most loose to this present life. Though the kindness done to Christ’s disciples be ever so small, yet if there be occasion for it, and ability to do no more, it shall be accepted.
The Christ does not say that they deserve a reward; for we cannot merit any thing from the hand of God; but they shall receive a reward from the free gift of God. Let us boldly confess Christ, and show love to him in all things.
Think not that I am come … This is taken from Micah 7:6.
The Christ did not here mean to say that the object of his coming was to produce discord and contention, for he was the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6, 11:6; Luke 2:14); but he means to say that such would be one of the effects of his coming.
One part of a family that was opposed to Him would set themselves against those who believed in him.
The wickedness of men, and not the relationship with the Christ, or the gospel, is the cause of this hostility. It is unnecessary to say that no prophecy has been more strikingly fulfilled; and it will continue to be fulfilled until all unite in obeying his commandments.
In the end our relationship with Him will produce universal peace.
But a sword
The sword is an instrument of death, and to send a sword is the same as to produce hostility and war.
The effect of the messages of love and peace will be a sword, strife, discord, conflict; deadly opposition between eternally hostile principles, penetrating into and rending asunder the dearest ties.
Think not ye that I am come to send peace on earth,….
The Jews had a notion of great outward peace and prosperity in the days of the Messiah; which was grounded on several prophecies of the Old Testament, not rightly understood by them; and the disciples of Christ had imbibed the same notion.
Therefore our Lord thought fit to let them know the contrary; and that they must not expect outward ease and quiet, and that worldly tranquillity would attend their ministry;
▪︎ for though He came to be a peace maker between God and sinners, by the blood of His cross;
▪︎ and though He was both the author and donor of spiritual peace to his people;
▪︎ and though the Gospel he brought with him, and sent them to preach, was the Gospel of peace; which, accompanied with his power, would produce peace in the consciences of men, and be the means of cultivating and maintaining peace among the saints;
Yet … “peace on earth” in a temporal sense, whether in the world in general, or in Judea in particular, must not be expected as the consequence of His coming; so far from it, that he subjoins, I came, not to send peace, but a sword.
By the “sword” may be meant the Gospel, which is the means of dividing and separating the people of Christ from the men of the world, and from their principles and practices, and one relation from another; as also of divisions, discords, and persecutions arising from it:
Not that it was the intention and design of the Christ, in coming into the world, to foment and encourage such things; but this, through the malice and wickedness of men, was eventually the effect and consequence of his coming (see Luke 12:51) where, instead of a “sword”, it is “division”; because the sword divides asunder, as does the sword of the Spirit, the word of God.
Not to send peace, but a sword.
The contrast is rather between union and division than between peace and war.
The “sifting” of Christ causes division or perplexity, and conflict of opinion, both in the thoughts of the individual and between man.
The same idea is illustrated by the husbandman’s fan, the refiner’s fire, and the shepherd’s separation of his flocks.
History shows that religion has been the great separating influence in the world.
Fellowship with Jesus will involve separation from the dearest upon earth, yet the reward is great.
The progress of thought in these verses seems to be as follows: Do not be surprised at the contradiction that appears between my teaching and the immediate result; I allowed for this when I began my work (Matthew 10:34).
There will, indeed, be separation in the closest earthly ties (Matthew 10:35, 36). But my claims are paramount (Matthew 10:37, 38). And on your relation to them depends everything hereafter (Matthew 10:39).
Matthew 10:34. – Parallel passage: Luke 12:51.
Think not. Christ here removes another mistaken opinion (Matthew 5:17). There the mistake was about his relation to the Law; here about the immediate result of his coming.
The Prince of Peace did not come to cast in peace as something from outside. It would show itself eventually, but from within outwards. That which he cast from without was fire (Luke 12:49), a sword.
Chrysostom (‘Hem.,’ 35.) points out, among other illustrations, that the confusion of tongues at the Tower of Babel was better than the peace which preceded it, and itself produced a better peace.
That I am come; that I came (Revised Version); (cf. further, Matthew 5:17) .
Jesus Christ came as the “Prince of Peace,” and his advent was heralded by angels, who sang of “peace on earth.” When one of his disciples drew a sword to defend him, he bade the man put it back in its sheath, saying, “They that take the sword shall perish with the sword” (Matthew 26:52).
His kingdom is not of this world, and because it is not, he told Pilate that his servants would not fight (John 18:36). How, then, can he speak of sending a sword?
I. HISTORICALLY, THE ADVENT OF THE CHRIST PROVOKES OPPOSITION.
We know that swords were drawn against the disciples of Christ. James the son of Zebedee heard a warning in these words of Christ that was subsequently verified in his own person – though as yet he knew it not – when Herod slew him with the sword, and he became the first martyr-apostle.
Our Lord foresaw persecution and predicted it.
But this was not contrary to his peace principles.
His disciples did not fight; and neither He nor they provoked antagonism by showing a quarrelsome spirit. The sword was wholly in the hands of the enemies of the new faith. It was not a sword of equal warfare, but a sword of cruelty, tyranny, persecution.
Yet Christ did not draw back from the prospect of it, nor did he permit any compromise on the part of his disciples. Truth must be spoken, errors must be exposed, sin must be denounced, at any cost.
Let the Christian be prepared for opposition.
If all men speak well of him, let him search his conduct to see whether he has been faithful, or whether perchance he may have been speaking smooth things for the sake of ease and comfort.
II. SOCIALLY, THE COMING OF CHRIST STIRS UP DISCORD.
This is a sad picture of the sword cutting into the home and separating child and parent (Matthew 10:35). We know that no family is so united as a truly Christian family.
Christ consecrates and strengthens home-life.
He does not require us to renounce home-ties in order to follow him.
How, then, does he come to describe the hideous picture of family quarrels brought about by his coming?
▪︎ We know that His words came true in many a Jewish home where a son or a daughter confessed Christ.
▪︎ They are applicable to-day in Hindoo families that have been reached by missionary influences.
▪︎ Even in western countries a true, brave confession of Christ may bring great trouble in a worldly home, when they do not follow the habits which are distinctly unchristian.
The explanation is that Christ must be first, and that no domestic claim can excuse us for disloyalty to him.
In order that the home may be ultimately glorified as the dwelling of Christ, it may have to be firs; of all saddened as the scene of discord. The larger society is broken and disturbed by Christian influences, and the trouble must go on tilt society is Christian.
III. SPIRITUALLY, THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST BRINGS A SWORD.
The Word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12).
The gospel of peace first brings warfare into the soul.
▪︎ It cuts through old habits;
▪︎ it opposes darling sins;
▪︎ it sets nil a new standard at variance with what was loved in the past.
The old Adam will not die without a struggle; he fights against the new man.
Thus the heart of the Christian becomes a battle-field.
To refuse to resist temptation for the sake of peace and quiet is to be unfaithful to Christ, who only gives peace through a faithful endurance of conflict.
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