Summary: Sermon 3 of 7: Why did Jesus come?
“I Came to Send a Sword”
Woodlawn Baptist Church
July 7, 2005
It goes without saying that we live in a war torn world. Just this week we have witnessed the terrorist bombing of London by religious fanatics. In Africa, over two million Christians have died at the hands of Muslim extremists since 1985. This month’s National Geographic magazine did a piece about Russia’s wars against its own southern border states like Chechnya, and of course our soldiers are fighting as we speak in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, it seems like there really has never been a time when people around the world have not been fighting.
In history we learned about the Romans killing the Christians. In church history we read about the Catholics killing Christians. Today, even though you won’t see it on TV, the Muslims are killing Christians by the thousands all over the world, but that seems so remote. Even the deaths of the disciples have little effect on such a privileged and prosperous people as we.
Before Jesus came on the scene, the Jews had been experiencing 200 years of war and fighting with Syrian armies as the Greek religion, language and culture was being forced on them. The Syrians had raided and overthrown Jerusalem, had plundered the temple and had desecrated it, causing the Jewish people to fight back with great intensity. In an act of desperation, one of the Jewish priests made a pact with Rome for military help, which eventually led to their being subjected to Roman rule. While all of this is the extremely short version of what happened, perhaps you can understand that when Jesus came to earth and the people understood Him to be the Messiah, He was expected to set up His kingdom and establish a kingdom of peace and perfect righteousness. They were tired of war and tired of fighting.
In Isaiah 9:6, it was prophesied that a child would be born, “and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end.”
Jesus was expected to establish His kingdom and overthrow the Roman rule from their backs. He was expected to restore the land to the glories of David and Solomon so they might live in peace and prosperity. Jesus Himself would make statements like “Salt is good. But if salt loses its taste, how can you restore its flavor? Keep on having salt among yourselves, and live in peace with one another.” Jesus would tell more than one individual to depart from Him in peace. As He was preparing to leave the disciples behind He told them, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
When the apostle Paul wrote about Jesus and the gospel, he called it a gospel of peace. He would say later that we are to follow after things that make for peace. God is called the God of peace. Jesus is called the Prince of peace. The book of Ephesians says He is our peace, that by His blood He made peace and that He came and preached peace. Yet in our text today in Matthew 10:34, Jesus says very clearly,
“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”
Was Jesus confused? How could the Prince of peace, who came preaching peace, encouraging His people to live in peace, in fact purchasing peace with His own blood, say here that He did not come to bring peace, but instead He came to bring a sword? Does this sound like the loving, gentle and meek Jesus that has been made popular in Christianity today? What does the sword have to do with Christ’s work of redemption? Now, in the last two messages, it was the Pharisees and scribes: those who opposed Jesus who had misconceptions about His coming, but here it is His own followers, and so far as this aspect of His coming goes, He is still misunderstood today among most believers and in most churches. As we consider what Jesus has really said about His coming, there are three choices you must make.