Jesus makes an incredible statement, “I didn’t come to bring peace, but a sword or division” (Luke 12:49-59, Matthew 10:32-39). So, is Jesus the Prince of War?
Introduction and Opening Questions:
- What is the title for Jesus that has special meaning for you?
- What situation in your life highlighted that title for you?
- What emotions does this verse bring into your heart?
- How does the cost of following Jesus (Matthew 10:34-39, Luke 12:49-53) reflect what you have experienced in life?
- How do you reconcile the two views of Jesus (peace-giver, conflict-starter)?
- What has Christ cost you in terms of relationships? Including family, friends, co-workers.
Conflicted Mission? (John 3:16-17)
- What was Jesus’ mission all about? His mission was not of condemnation but of salvation. Without salvation, mankind is at war with God, whether we are aware of it or not.
- There is a difference between his mission and the effects of his mission: making peace with God can still bring a kind of war in our lives.
- Violence is often the by-product of someone who attempts to bring peace.
- MLK – peace and equality, but an act of violence ended his life.
- Gandhi – non-violence and peace, yet met an assassin’s bullet at age 79.
- John Lennon – wrote “give peace a chance” yet killed with a gunshot.
What about YOU?
- When you came to faith in Christ, was there a prying loose with any family or friends?
- When you connect with Jesus, you must connect with his mission. What stirs us? Are you filled with a sense of purpose?
- When you walk with Jesus, you have to be prepared to let some things go: attitude, potty mouth, vengeance, hating enemies, old habits, maybe your girlfriend.
Matthew 10:34–36 describes Jesus telling the disciples that He came not to bring peace to the world, but a sword. Jesus’ sword was never a literal one. In fact, when Peter took up a sword to defend Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus rebuked him and told him to put away his sword, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). Why then, did Jesus say, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” What kind of sword did Jesus come to bring?
Among the names of Jesus Christ is that of Prince of Peace. Verses like Isaiah 9:6, Luke 2:14 and John 14:27 make it clear that Jesus came to bring peace, but that peace is between the man and God. Those who reject God and the only way of salvation through Jesus (John 4:6) will find themselves perpetually at war with God. But those who come to Him in repentance will find themselves at peace with God. Because of Christ’s sacrifice, we are restored to a relationship of peace with God (Romans 5:1).
Still, it is inevitable that there will be conflict between good and evil, the Christ and the antichrist, the light and the darkness, the children of God (believers) and the children of the devil (those who refuse Christ).
- Conflict must arise between the two groups, and this can and does happen within a family in which some are believers and others are not.
- We should seek to be at peace with all men but should never forget that Jesus warned we will be hated for His sake. Because those who reject Him hate Him, they will hate His followers as well (John 15:18).
In Matthew 10:34–36, Jesus said He had come at this time not to bring peace to the earth, but a sword, a weapon which divides and severs. As a result of His visit to the earth, some children would be set against parents and a man’s enemies might be those within his own household (from Micah 7:6, which addresses the rebelliousness and strife characteristic of Israel during the time of Ahaz. Just as Israel’s history foreshadows Jesus’ history, its turmoil and strife foreshadow the strife that results from the coming of the Messiah, even to the division of families. Although coming to Christ brings peace to the heart (Matthew 11:29), embracing the gospel also makes life more difficult in some respects, because Jesus demands allegiance that takes priority over the natural ties of life (Matthew 10:37–39).
- This is because many who choose to follow Christ are hated by their family members. This may be part of the cost of discipleship, for love of family should not be greater than love for the Lord.
- A true disciple must take up his cross and follow Jesus (Matthew 16:24). He must be willing to face not only family hatred, but also death, like a criminal carrying his cross to his own execution.
- True followers of Christ must be willing to give up, even to the point of “hating” all that is in our lives, even our own families, if we are to be worthy of Him (Matthew 10:37–39). In so doing, we find our lives in return for having given them up to Jesus Christ.
- Jesus is not denying the personal peace which comes to those who have received Christ (Romans 8:6). The history of Christianity has verified the claim of Jesus that men would be divided harshly, even within family units, over the gospel of Christ. No division is any more clearly drawn than that between holiness and sinfulness
John MacArthur says, “Though the ultimate end of the gospel is peace with God (John 14:27; Romans 8:6), the immediate result of the gospel is frequently conflict. Conversion to Christ can result in strained family relationships (Matthew 10:35, 36), persecution, and even martyrdom. Following Christ presupposes a willingness to endure such hardships (Matthew 10:32, 33, 37–39). Though He is called “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6), Christ will have no one deluded into thinking that He calls believers to a life devoid of all conflict.”