A Decision

Today’s reading:  Matthew 10

Matthew 10 is the account of Jesus preparing to send his twelve disciples out for ministry. He started with basic instructions for them in verses 5-15.

  • Who – Take the good news to the nation of Israel, the Jews, God’s chosen people (verse 6).
  • What – Announce that the kingdom of God is near (verse 7).  Heal the sick, raise the dead and cast out demons (verse 8).
  • How – Don’t take anything with you, rather search for a person to let you stay at their house until you leave (verses 9-11).  Bless those that welcome you in, move on by those who do not (verse 13-14).

Jesus then spent the next 26 verses preparing the disciples for the persecution they were going to face. He told them to expect to be beaten, arrested and put on trial. He went on and encouraged them not to fear, as their enemies were only able to kill their bodies, not their souls. This was a harsh dose of reality, but not different than what you’d expect Jesus to say to his disciples…until you get to verse 34.

Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household (Matthew 10:34).

Wait a minute. Is this the Jesus I know?

When Jesus was born, didn’t the angels say, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14)?

Isn’t the fifth commandment to honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you (Exodus 20:12)?

Doesn’t Jesus call us, his followers, to be peacemakers? In the Sermon on the Mount he said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9).

Later on in the New Testament, James the brother of Jesus, described those with faith in Jesus as “peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness” (James 3:18).

Isn’t peace also one of the fruits that should be produced by a life that is truly devoted to following Jesus?  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23).

Do you see my struggle here?

My Life Application Study Bible (Tyndale House) had good perspective on this verse.  Jesus wasn’t encouraging family conflict in Matthew 10:34, rather he was acknowledging that his presence demanded a decision.  The same is true today.  Either you’re with him or you’re not.  Either you have confessed Jesus as Savior and Lord of your life, or you have not.  There is no in between.  This dichotomy naturally causes conflict between those who follow Jesus and those who do not.  The result is persecution.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him (James 1:12).