Not Peace, But a Sword

knight armor

Imagine as Jesus is equipping his disciples to go out on their own and proclaim the good news that he is also warning against major catastrophic events. He promised them persecution and major, major rejection. Rejection and opposition are enough to shut most people down. When we feel intimidated, or even like we don’t meet the approval of others, we tend to wear out or shut down.

Opposition can take its toll on people, which is why it was so important that Jesus prepared his disciples to experience it. He could have removed obstacles and ushered in peace, but that’s not even what Jesus’ purpose was. In fact, the message of repentance and salvation was quite offensive to the masses. People are willing to fight, become violent, and and even kill for their own convictions.

In preparing his disciples, Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For 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” (Matthew 10:34-35 ESV). Jesus was not calling his disciples to be disruptive and violent. His point was that the message was offensive and people would turn violent, therefore his followers needed to be alert and not allow themselves to be destroyed.

The question at hand is, “Are you willing to lose family for me?” People would have to choose between faith or family. Jesus said, “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” (vs. 37). We cannot forsake Christ for the sake of family or “keeping peace.” Jesus calls his people to radically follow him, no matter the cost.

Denying Youself


The past week was a great reminder of just how many people in our congregation really get Jesus’ words: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:23-24 ESV).

In the past week I’ve witnessed people selflessly give of themselves–both their time and their money–to help others who are in need. I was teaching the Bible class when literally half of the class abruptly got up and walked out. At first, I wondered what I said to offend them. In my ten years of teaching and preaching here, I’ve never had a group just up and walk out. Then I saw the reason–a recent widow walked in the door and they ran to embrace her, cry with her, and pray over her. My heart smiled at the disruption and it reminded me of how well our congregation loves others.

Several people personally handed me money to help various people in need. Others quietly gave and did not let their left hand know what their right hand was doing. We received a beautiful card in the mail from a church member who lives in another state. I’ve heard of so, so many stories of people who have received phone calls, visits, emails, and even money from church members.

This congregation is heeding the words of Jesus to deny yourself, pick up your cross daily, and follow Jesus.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash