Ultimately Jesus’ role is to bring peace and restoration to the earth, but not yet. First, he came to bring a sword, because his message requires a choice and that choice divides even families. To follow Jesus, you must be willing to live with that rejection and hostility, even if it means losing your closest family members or your very life.
Matthew 10 contains the instructions Jesus gave to the Twelve before sending them to minister on his behalf. This journey represents an important first step in Jesus passing his ministry over to the apostles. He sent them into Jewish territory and gave them the authority to heal and teach. This journey will not be a victory tour where they gather support to overthrow Rome. They will be hated, rejected and persecuted. In this world, it is dangerous to be associated with Jesus. But, when it comes to your eternal destiny, it is dangerous NOT to be associated with Jesus.
34“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35For I have come 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 person’s enemies will be those of his own household.” – Matthew 10:34-36
- This language about not bringing peace would have sounded strange to the disciples who expected the Messiah to bring peace (e.g. Isaiah 9:6-7; Micah 4:1-5).
- This language about setting family members echos Micah 7.
- Micah was a prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah during the reigns of Jothan, Ahaz and Hezekiah.
- During the reign of Hezekiah, the Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom of Israel, but the southern kingdom survived the Assyrians.
- Micah proclaims God’s judgment due to widespread ungodliness in the people of both kingdoms.
- He also predicts a time when God will forgive a remnant of His people and establish His rule over all the earth through the Messiah (e.g Micah 5:2-5).
1Woe is me! For I have become as when the summer fruit has been gathered, as when the grapes have been gleaned: there is no cluster to eat, no first-ripe fig that my soul desires. 2The godly has perished from the earth, and there is no one upright among mankind; they all lie in wait for blood, and each hunts the other with a net. 3Their hands are on what is evil, to do it well; the prince and the judge ask for a bribe, and the great man utters the evil desire of his soul; thus they weave it together. 4The best of them is like a brier, the most upright of them a thorn hedge. The day of your watchmen, of your punishment, has come; now their confusion is at hand. 5Put no trust in a neighbor; have no confidence in a friend; guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your arms; 6for the son treats the father with contempt, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house. 7But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. – Micah 7:1-7
- Micah warns that the people are so corrupt and hostile to the will of God that even the closest human relationships of family are not to be trusted.
- Normally, you can count on your own family to be on your side. But at this time, the people are so hostile to the will of God and so unwilling to act justly that you can’t even count on those close human relationships.
- Micah closed his book by calling on God to shepherd his people through the Messiah (Micah 7:18-20).
- One day the Messiah will establish peace on earth and bring in the fullness of God’s kingdom, forgiving his people and conquering even death itself. But not yet.
- This first coming of the Messiah calls for a decision. People have to decide whether or not they will believe his message.
- The first coming of Jesus was, among other things, the clearest declaration of the plan of God to date. This clarifying message splits and alienates even families.
- Jesus did not come to bring peace but a sword in this sense. One day Jesus will return to conquer, judge and restore all things. But now he has come to confront us with a choice.
- In Micah’s time, the people as a whole were so hostile to God that you couldn’t even trust your own family members. Likewise, Jesus proclaims a message so divisive that it will break even the closest family ties.
37“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” – Matthew 10:37-39
- In this context, the thing that you “love” is the thing that you hold on to; the thing that you “hate” is the thing that you let go of. It has nothing to do with feelings.
- To love your parents more than Jesus means that you care more about preserving the relationship with your parents than about preserving your relationship with Jesus.
- “Worthy” in this context is acting appropriately. If I taught a Bible study while I was drunk, you might say to me, you’re not acting in a way that’s worthy of a Bible teacher. Meaning my behavior is not appropriate for the role that you have.
- Paraphrase: you are not acting like a true disciple of Jesus if you care more about maintaining your family relationships than about following Jesus.
- A cross is not something you use to commit suicide. If you are carrying your cross, it’s because the powers that be want you dead and you are on your way to your execution.
- The choice to take up your cross is metaphorical way of talking about where we expect to find life.
- We are willing to pick up our cross and follow Jesus because nothing in this world can give us eternal life. We believe the teachings of Jesus even if it means we lose everything in this life.
- To follow Jesus, you must be willing to live with that rejection and hostility, even if it means losing your closest family members or your very life.
Please listen to the podcast for more detail and explanation.
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