Summary: Does Jesus really call us to a simple, exciting life?
“Divide and Conquer”
Drew Dyck once volunteered at a youth event put on by a national youth ministry. Near the end of an evening full of games, fun, and food the leader began his devotional talk by stating, “Being a Christian isn’t hard. You won’t lose your friends or be unpopular at school. Nothing will change. Your life will be the same, just better.” Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? I wonder if the disciples were expecting the same thing. Jesus had just called and commissioned them (9:35-10:10) to go into the towns and villages to preach, heal, raise the dead, and drive out demons. Sounds simple enough and exciting, doesn’t it?
But is this what following Jesus is really all about? Does He really call us to a simple, exciting life? Let’s listen in on what Jesus told the disciples as they prepared to go out and do as He had instructed them.
Jesus CAUTIONS AND CLARIFIES because He knew the disciples might not have a handle on what this commissioned life would be like. (11-24) He CAUTIONS them, “When you head out you will sometimes feel like helpless sheep among starving wolves. Many will not listen to your message; many others will not like it. Doors will be slammed in your faces. Share my message in a Synagogue and you may be dragged into the streets and flogged. But if you preach in the streets you might be arrested and taken to court. Even your friends and family may turn against you. After all, if I’m rejected and mistreated, you will be too. Understand I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. I came to divide. So take your sword and get going and divide!” Rather than encouragement, Jesus gave A WARNING.
Jesus wouldn’t make it in today’s church, would He? He’s just not visitor friendly. I mean, can you imagine what would happen if I said to those of you visiting today, “Oh you’ll love it here at Hope. When you leave here today we expect you to spread the Word everywhere. Get ready to rumble with the world because they won’t like you anymore. But that’s okay – we want you to be about the business of dividing, not multiplying. In fact, here’s your sword.” Would you be interested in joining us if our church motto said, “Hope Church – an army of sword bearers seeking to divide our families and our world?”
So what’s the deal? Jesus’ own life CLARIFIES what He means. Jesus taught that there were two gates, one small and one wide. The wide gate leads to a broad road and into hell and the narrow gate leads to a narrow road and into heaven. He indicated that people were like trees – either good growing good fruit or bad growing bad fruit. Jesus spoke about two foundations – one solid rock and the other sinking sand. Building on the rock provides for survival and strength whereas building on the sand leads to destruction. Jesus claimed he was the only way to the Father. He was the narrow gate, the good tree, the solid rock.
As a result Jesus divided people. Many followed Jesus. Yet Jesus was opposed, often violently, by Satan, by religious leaders, by political leaders, by one of His own disciples, by His own family, and by the common people. He was, after all, crucified. There was no neutrality. People loved Him or hated Him, followed Him or rejected Him.
So His life serves as AN EXAMPLE. What was done to Him will be done to His followers. The way He was treated is the way His followers will be treated. Peter and the other apostles experienced dramatic opposition. Paul was beaten and imprisoned multiple times. Most of them were killed for expressing their faith in Jesus. Steve Gaines wrote of a pastor he knows who is of Jewish heritage. When that Pastor devoted His life to Jesus his Jewish parents held a funeral on his behalf and told him “You don’t exist to us anymore.” Jesus came to divide. Go to the Voice of the Martyrs website (www.persecution.com) to read how and where persecution and division exists today. Jesus still divides.
But it doesn’t exist just ‘out there’ or ‘over there’ somewhere. We are to EXPECT OPPOSITION for our witness as well. Jesus still divides. The twelfth chapter of Revelation makes it very clear that since Jesus has defeated Satan, Satan has turned his attack and his armies upon those who follow Jesus. If we openly witness for Jesus, we will experience the wrath of Satan. It’s not that people or Satan hate us – rather they hate Jesus. The cross repels them. Paul wrote (1 Cor. 1:18-25) “The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. As the Scriptures say, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.” … So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense. But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. (4:9)…God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe…” Jesus, the cross, divides.