Are you aware that Jesus Christ said the following statements?
“Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division.”
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.”
“I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!”
One thing is clear, Jesus never sought to be popular or to be “politically correct!” He never merely said what people wanted to hear. He always spoke only the truth from His heavenly Father.
If you are a Bible reader, then you no doubt will have come across these quotes in the Gospels. But have you ever wondered how to reconcile the fact that Jesus taught that He came to bring division, a sword and fire on earth with the tales of “Peace on earth” that are on so many Christmas cards at this time of year? Which is the true message of the Lord Jesus Christ and how do we reconcile Him being called the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) with such divisive concepts?
Peace – For Who?
The angels’ words that declared, “Peace on earth,” was for all the sinners who repent. It was not for the rest of humanity that remain in their sin and rebellion against God. The Lord’s words that declared to His disciples, “Peace be with you,” was an inner peace in their heart or soul between themselves and the Father God.
Jesus brings a different kind of peace, you see. He achieved the believer’s peace with the Father through His death on the cross.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
But this peace that believers receive also brings about division. It divides us from the world that refuses to bow the knee to the true and living God.
When Jesus changes a person’s heart so that they turn away from sin and follow Him, those who still belong to the world may start to hate them. For to follow Jesus is to confess him as our only Saviour and the only way to heaven. Those who do not turn their lives over to Him, the Bible clearly says that they are going to spend their eternity in hell. People don’t like that, to say the least. They would prefer that you compromise such a message. They want you to say that Jesus is just one of the ways to heaven. Then they can keep their own peace of mind and beliefs even if they don’t follow Jesus. When you refuse to compromise the Gospel then what inevitably follows is division.
“And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” John 3:19-2
Division – Between Who?
True followers of Jesus Christ therefore know that it is inevitable that there will be conflict between:-
- good and evil,
- light and darkness,
- the children of God (believers) and the children of the devil (those who refuse Christ)
- the kingdom of God and those who are in the kingdom of darkness
- truth-accepting born-again followers of the Lord Jesus Christ and truth-rejecting natural family.
Conflict will always arise between these two groups, and this will happen within the family, as well as the world at large, when some are believers and others are not. Although we should to some extent, seek to be at peace with all people, we should also never forget that Jesus warned we will be hated for His sake.
“If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Romans 12:18
Lets’s now take a look at some scriptures and see exactly what Jesus said about the division as opposed to peace on earth.
“I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished!
Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth?
I tell you, not at all, but rather division.
For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”
Luke 14:26-27 & 33
“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. … 33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.”
“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.”
History showed us that not long after Jesus’ death and resurrection there was a terrible division due to the Gospel, as the Apostles were arrested by the Jewish council in Jerusalem. Great persecution against Christians broke out. Later as Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire, the government put many Christian to death for refusing to honour the state religion of that day. Still this goes on in the world at large.
As I have stated we know that in some parts of the world, and some periods of history, that Christians have been killed simply for their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus told us ahead of time that it would be this way.
Also, I have thought about the prophecy given to Mary by Simeon when “the Holy Spirit was upon him,” as they presented Jesus at the temple to offer the appropriate sacrifice for His birth.
“Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”” Luke 2:34-35
Certainly, the loss of, or separation from, a person you love causes tremendous emotional pain that can feel rather like a sword piercing your heart or soul.
It seems that pain is inevitable for those who follow the Lord Jesus Christ, though we wish it were not so. As oil and water do not mix, neither will those who turn away from (or hate) the Lord Jesus continually endure those who follow and love the Lord. However, be encouraged in that Jesus has prayed for His followers (as recorded in John 17) and He “ever lives to intercede for you” (Hebrews 7:25).
“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.” John 17:14-15
So, the hatred for the name of Jesus brings the sword of division and separation and persecution.
“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.”
This division happened to Jesus amongst His own siblings and the religious people of His time.
“After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him. Now the Jews’ Feast of Tabernacles was at hand. His brothers therefore said to Him, “Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing. For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” For even His brothers did not believe in Him.
Then Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready. The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil.”
We need to keep our hearts and minds encouraged by the scriptures that teach of the great blessings and treasure in heaven storing up for those who are rejected or hated for the sake of the name of Jesus Christ. Remember the section of the Beatitudes where the Lord taught:-
“Blessed are you when men hate you,
And when they exclude you,
And revile you, and cast out your name as evil,
For the Son of Man’s sake.
Rejoice in that day and leap for joy!
For indeed your reward is great in heaven,
For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.” Luke 6:22-23
God is truth and there is no lie in Him. Since truth divides, then Jesus naturally divides His followers away from those who reject and hate God’s truth, even one’s own natural family members. We will no doubt feel some emotional pain and distress when this is happening to us. But the Lord is testing us to see who we love most. As a Christian with a divided family we are in a position where we must count the cost of following Jesus unashamedly. We must decide if we are going to please God and remain faithful to Him, or instead are we going to cling emotionally to our truth-rejecting natural family members? This is the cost we are told to count in the scriptures above.
When Jesus said we are to “hate” our family members we know that He meant love them less than we love Him. The cost of being Jesus’ disciple is everything we think we have in this world. That is our homes, our friends, all of our relatives and our very lives. Basically, we have to grow in our faith to get to the point where we are willing to surrender ALL that we have. Jesus said, “whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.”
You know the old hymn, “All to Jesus, I surrender?” The chorus goes:
“I surrender all, I surrender all, All to Thee my blessed Saviour, I surrender all.”
A little while ago I remember being unable to sing it and weeping my way through the hymn being sung around me. I was humbly praying that the Lord would help me to surrender the issues and people that I was still holding onto in my heart. My flesh, myself and the worldliness within weren’t lined up with the will of God. I wanted God’s will to be done and wanted to surrender all but was struggling to do so. God doesn’t force us to let go, but He will convict us of what is needful for our sanctification. He doesn’t prise open our tightly gripped hands that are clinging onto some person or property or other thing of this life, but He sure will chasten those He loves, in order to help us live for Him.
Sometimes our human “need” simply to be listened to, understood and accepted can drive us to continue pursuing a relationship with family or friends that is no longer right for us in the eyes of the Lord. We must consider whether clinging on to such relationships is wise, when we keep getting hurt by their backbiting and sniping at us. Let us go prayerfully to the Lord, submitting ourselves to Him and asking for His wisdom in each situation. Remember what James wrote:
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5
Also remember that Jesus taught:
“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.” Matthew 7:6-12
Now we know that the Bible teaches us to “Honour your father and mother,” but then we are also told not to love such people MORE THAN the Lord. We are taught similarly to love our sons and daughters but likewise we must not love them MORE THAN the Lord Jesus. We are to be respectful and care for our bodies as the temple of the Holy Spirit but we are not to love our own lives MORE THAN the Lord.
After a rich young ruler came to Jesus asking Him what he must do to have eternal life and he departed unable to do what was required of him, we read of the Lord’s response to Peter.
“Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have LEFT ALL and followed You. Therefore, what shall we have?”
So, Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
And EVERONE who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” Matthew 19:27-30
The world, and even the church, often esteem family, spouse and homes as the most valuable things in life. But those of us who are growing in Godliness simply must hold all things more lightly. As we live our lives yoked to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, we must take on more of His ways and less of the world’s ways. Remember the time in scripture when the crowd told Him that His mother and brothers were wanting to speak with Him and His response was as follows.
“Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.”
But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”” Matthew 12:47-50
This was a change of importance of flesh and blood relationships to the spiritual relationships. There is therefore a comfort for the believer who is divided from or divorced from their family members as they have now got a larger family of fellow believers in Christ. All those who DO the will of the Father God are our bothers and sisters in the Lord.
There is much pain in accepting the letting go of someone you love who is rejecting you due to your love for the Lord Jesus and His ways. The division hurts! It hurts to be forsaken, abandoned, excluded and ignored. It hurts to feel friendless, discarded, neglected and deserted. It hurts to be unwanted, unloved, lonely and alone in the world.
BUT the Lord knows what you are going through for Him. His peace can still touch your tired and lonely heart and soul as you walk the lonely road for His name’s sake.
“He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear.
What can man do to me?”” Hebrews
Many blessings to all my brothers and sisters in Christ who together make up the Body of Christ,
Scattered throughout the world.
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