Thursday, December 17, 2015

Advent Day 17: Jesus Came to Bring a Sword


[34] “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. [35] 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)

This isn't the kind of verse we normally think of when we picture the Christ child laying in a manger. We like to think about him coming to seek and save the lost, or making us children of God, or freeing us from fear of death.  But, we don't get to pick the reasons Jesus came.  This verse came from his own lips, so we must think about what it means, believe it, and worship him for it.

On Day 16 we reflected on the fact that Jesus came to preach peace because He is our peace.  We recalled that when the angels announced his birth to the shepherds they declared "peace on earth." Yet, here we have Jesus seeming to contradict the angels and, for that matter, himself.  How can he come and preach peace and, at the same time, say, "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth.  I have not come to bring peace, but a sword" (Matthew 10:34)?

Jesus explains what he means by sword in verse 35, "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." In other words, Jesus doesn't mean a literal sword, but that his coming will create divisions in households: "a person's enemies will be those of his own household" (verse 36).  Jesus is referring to the inevitable reality that there will be homes where some family members become his followers and some do not.  As a result, in some homes, there will be tension, hostility, and even hatred toward his followers.

Now, to be clear, Jesus' point is not that he wants every family to have it's members set against one another.  But, he does want to be clear that faithfulness to him trumps peace in the home.  He's helping us set our priorities. If not for the clear teaching of Jesus in places like this, human reason may have led us to believe that we should pursue peace at all cost.  After all, that's what Jesus would want us to do, we would reason.  

Jesus, however, helps us shape our priorities.  We don't pursue peace at all costs.  If we have to choose between a peaceful home and faithfulness to Jesus, we must choose Jesus.  That doesn't mean we dismiss our families, stop loving them, or hate them back.  But, it does mean, that if our families make us choose - family or Jesus - then Jesus it is.

Now, what does this have to do with Christmas? Everything. It means that this child born to Joseph and Mary wasn't like any other man. He was (and is) the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. All things were created through him and for him. He holds them all together by the word of his power. He is eternal. He is the image of the invisible God. 

This was no ordinary baby. Therefore, with him our allegiance must lie above all others. Not to give it to him would be the height of foolishness. That's why he says in Matthew 10:37, "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."

He was no ordinary baby and he deserves extraordinary devotion.

Advent Day 1

Advent Day 2

Advent Day 3

Advent Day 4

Advent Day 5

Advent Day 6

Advent Day 7

Advent Day 8

Advent Day 9

Advent Day 10

Advent Day 11

Advent Day 12

Advent Day 13

Advent Day 14

Advent Day 15

Advent Day 16

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