Jesus said to his Apostles: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s enemies will be those of his household.” - Matthew 10:34-36
Hmmm…was this a typo? Did Jesus really say this? This is one of those passages that can leave us a bit baffled and confused. But Jesus does this all the time so we shouldn’t be surprised. So what does Jesus mean? Does He really want to bring the “sword” and division rather than peace?
It’s important when reading this passage that we read it in light of everything else Jesus has ever written. We must read it in light of all His teachings on love and mercy, forgiveness and unity, etc. But with that said, what was Jesus talking about in this passage?
In large part, He was speaking about one of the effects of the Truth. The Truth of the Gospel has the power to deeply unite us to God when we fully accept it as the Word of Truth. But another effect is that it divides us from those who refuse to be united to God in the Truth. We are not intending this and we ought not do so by our own will or intention, but it must be understood that by immersing ourselves in the Truth, we are also putting ourselves at odds with everyone who may be at odds with God and His Truth.
Our culture today wants to preach what we call “relativism.” This is an idea that what is good and true for me may not be good and true for you but that, in spite of all having different “truths,” we can still all be one happy family. But that’s not the Truth!
The Truth (with a capital “T”) is that God has established what is right and what is wrong. He has set His moral law over all of humanity and this cannot be undone. He has also set forth the truths of our faith and those cannot be undone. And that law is as true for me as it is for you or anyone else.
This passage above offers us the sobering reality that by rejecting all forms of relativism and by holding onto Truth, we also run the risk of division, even with those in our families. This is sad and this hurts. Jesus offers this passage especially to strengthen us when this happens. If division happens as a result of our sin, shame on us. If it happens as a result of the Truth (as offered in mercy), then we should accept it as a result of the Gospel. Jesus was rejected and we should not be surprised if that happens to us, too.
Reflect, today, upon how fully you are ready and willing to accept the full Truth of the Gospel no matter the consequences. The full Truth will set you free and will also, at times, reveal the division present between you and those who have rejected God. You must pray for unity in Christ, but not be willing to compromise so as to bring about a false unity.
Lord, give me the wisdom and courage I need to accept all You have revealed. Help me to love You above all things and to accept whatever the consequences are of me following You. Jesus, I trust in You.