Summary: Jesus came to bring a sword between daughter and mother, son and father. Why? Find out.
7.16.20 Matthew 10:34-39
34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 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—
36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’
37 “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
When Peter drew his sword and chopped off Malchus’ ear in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus rebuked him. “Put your sword away! Those who live by the sword die by the sword!” In the Sermon on the Mount He also told us to “turn the other cheek” when slapped in the face. Paul also wrote in Romans 12:18, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, maintain peace with everyone.”
Yet here Jesus seems to contradict Himself. He says that He specifically came to bring a sword between FAMILY members. The Old Testament lesson has the Levites grabbing swords and going through the crowd, killing their own fellow Israelites, and Moses COMMENDS them for it. It seems so contrary to what we believe and practice. Nonetheless, today we seem to encounter a militant Jesus.
The Militant Jesus
Let’s hear what Jesus had to say again -
Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— 36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’
Family can make some of the tightest relationships in the world. Brothers and sisters can fight like cats and dogs but then grow up to be the tightest of friends. Jesus talks about the relationship of the man to the father, the daughter to the mother. Parents can have a great influence on their children, and that’s how it’s supposed to go. Children are supposed to submit to parents and learn from their examples. It should be a tight relationship. But Jesus said that He came to split this relationship in two with a sword.
It begs the question, “Why?” Is Jesus like a young child who demands you only have one friend and gets jealous every time you talk to someone else? We know that’s not the case. Jesus is the One who GAVE us mothers and fathers, sons and daughters. He COMMANDS us to love them and cherish them. The contradiction goes away as Jesus explains what He means in vs. 37, “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” The key is in those three words, MORE THAN ME.
You can see this illustrated in modern day relationships. If your spouse wants to hang out with his old friends and go golfing one night a week, you might be fine with that. But if he ups it to two nights a week or three? Or what if your spouse tended to get out of control and have too much to drink when he hung out with certain friends? So it’s not that God doesn’t want us to love our fathers and mothers, sons and daughters. He doesn’t want our relationship with our family to come ahead of our relationship with Him or ruin our relationship with Him. When that happens, you need to put Jesus first.
It’s a tough thing, but history is full of people who stood up AGAINST their family. Korah was a spiritual leader of Israel who led a rebellion against Moses. God opened up the earth and swallowed him and his family alive. Yet we still have Psalms, written long after the time of Korah, that were written by the “Sons of Korah.” If that is the same Korah, then he may have had descendants who DIDN’T follow their dad and weren’t swallowed by the earth. They loved God more than their own father!
Josiah’s father was Amon. 2 Chronicles 33:22–23 says that, “He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, as his father Manasseh had done. Amon worshiped and offered sacrifices to all the idols Manasseh had made. But unlike his father Manasseh, he did not humble himself before the LORD; Amon increased his guilt.” Yet Josiah broke off from his father’s and grandfather’s ways and became the most faithful king Israel ever had.