Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a 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 ‘A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THOSE OF HIS OWN HOUSEHOLD.’ He 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. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. (Matthew 10:34-39)
Jesus Christ is a loving and compassionate Savior. There are many stories in His life showing His love for others by touching lepers, blessing children and weeping tears of sorrow. The angels sang at His birth of peace and good will being brought to man. Love is defined by the Lord. These images of God’s Son are very appealing because it is easier to embrace an inspiring character of love than a more critical or harsh personality. The difficulty with this singular image of Jesus is it fails to see the condition of man and the mission of the Lord.
Sin darkened the world under the grip of Satan. God’s Son came to make war with the devil and a bloody war it would be; literally and figuratively. The hearts of men were set on their own way. They were not receptive to the change needed for their salvation. The conflict between Jesus and man came to a climax when the Savior of man was nailed to a cross and died. Followers of Jesus would find persecution in the same way and all for the same reason. The teaching of the Lord was radical and drastic in its nature.
The Son of God did not come to have tea and cookies with sinful man. Like a surgeon engaged in radical surgery to save the patient the Great Physician came to heal man of sin. His peace was a message of strong change measured by a sword. Quoting from the prophet Micah Jesus appeals to the message that salvation could only come from God (see Micah 7) and the sword of truth would divide families. The family is the basic element of life but allegiance to the will of God superseded those relationships. Obedience to the will of God will put fathers and mothers against their own children.
An old saying that ‘blood is thicker than water’ is invalidated by Christ. A man’s enemy (let that word sink in) will be his father, mother, brother or sister. Why? Because God is true and all men are liars. What that means is salvation does not come from our parents or siblings but from Jesus Christ. My belief system is not based on what my parents believed but what I believe. If we hold to the faith of anyone (family especially) we will be lost. Faith comes by the word of God not the word of others.
Jesus’ teaching was radical. We are to love and honor our parents but our faith must be our own. It will be a heavy cross from some to bear who have to turn their backs on parents and siblings because they do not believe the truth as taught in scripture. Radical. Tough love. Real love. Devoted love. Life changing. Without it we have no hope. The Great Physician is able to save to the utmost those who accept His ‘surgical’ will. He died on a cross. How much more radical can the example of love be?
Devotion, which is a derivative of the Latin word for TO VOW, means to yield oneself, to commit oneself, to consecrate oneself to the object of devotion, without regard to the sacrifice or suffering involved. (Douglas V. Steere, Door into Life, 1948)