Sermon on Matthew 10:34-42
Text: “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 their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.
40 “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”
When the Apostle Paul speaks of the armor that is ours as Christians in Ephesians chapter 6, he speaks of the breastplate of righteousness. He mentions the helmet of salvation. He also talks about the belt of truth and the shield of faith. The last piece of armament that he mentions is a sword. He describes this sword as “The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:17) This morning our Savior speaks about this sword and how using it will affect our lives. May we, with the Lord’s help, ACCEPT THE SWORD WHICH THE PEACE OF JESUS BRINGS. When we do so we can 1. Expect That Some Will Reject Us. However, we can 2. Trust That God Will Accept Us.
Verse 34 of our text seems to be at odds with what we read in the rest of the Scriptures. Jesus said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” So many other places it talks about the fact that Jesus would bring peace. That is what the angels sang about on the night he was born, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14) In other places, we hear about the wolf lying down with the lamb (Isaiah 11:6) and other pictures of peace. How can we reconcile the two concepts?
We do so by realizing that there are two different types of peace being spoken of here. The first is the peace that exists between God and man, because of the work of Jesus. Jesus did bring about peace because of his substitutionary work. Because we have sinned, we were the enemies of God. Jesus came to the earth and did what we cannot do, in the fact that he was perfect in following his Father’s will. He did this for us. Then, to pay the debt of sin that we owed to our God, Jesus went to the cross. There he shed his blood. When we are brought to faith, we receive the blessing of having our sins washed away. Jesus also rose from the dead to show us that he had done everything necessary for our salvation. Because of Jesus’ work, there is peace, peace between God and man. The believer is at peace with God.
However, when there is this peace, there will be a conflict elsewhere. When we strive to live our Christianity, the unbelieving world will not always appreciate it. This should come as no surprise. Already at the fall into sin, God told the devil that there would be enmity or hatred between his offspring, namely, the unbelievers, and God’s offspring, namely, the believers. (Genesis 3:15) That is what Jesus meant when he said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Verse 34) Just prior to our text, Jesus was getting the disciples ready for going out with the message about the kingdom of heaven. He wanted them to know that their message would not always be received with open arms. Here, Jesus is telling them and us that sometimes even those closest to us will not appreciate what we have to say. Jesus said, “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.” (Verses 35-36) Often, this will happen when we tell them that what they are doing or saying or the attitude that they have is not right. This is not always an easy thing to do. After all, who wants to start a fight within your own family? If you tell a stranger that what they are doing is not right, and they become angry with you, you can leave them there. However, if you tell your spouse or your child or your parent that they are doing something that is sinful, they will be upset with you, and you have to live with them. Who wants to live with that? This is not to say that they are necessarily unbelievers. They may well be a believer who has done something that is sinful.
Before we go any further, we need to remind ourselves of the purpose of telling others about their sin. We do not do so to show how right or good we are. Rather, our goal is to get them to take seriously Jesus’ desire that they repent and turn to him. Our goal is to show them how much God loves them.
Still, even with that in the background, it is not easy to do this. We want to have peace in our lives, and especially in our homes. For that reason, we might be tempted to keep quiet. That is why Jesus shows us the importance of doing this, even if it might bring about unrest. Jesus said in verse 37, “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Dear friends, haven’t we all done this in one form or fashion? A loved one is sinning, but we do not want to hurt their feelings. We need to realize that, when we refuse to speak up, we are saying that this person is more important to us than God is. We are saying that this person is dearer to us than God is. In other words, we are breaking the First Commandment, which says that we are to love God more than anyone or anything else. This is a dangerous course to remain on. That is why Jesus says that those who do so, “are not worthy” of him. We stand to lose our faith if we continue in this. While we might think that we are gaining peace in the home, we are really bringing about trouble, both for ourselves and the person we think that we are trying to shield from hurt.
Dear friends, sometimes there must be pain, before there can be healing. The doctor must make a cut, before he can remove the diseased tissue. Out of love for that person, we will sometimes have to say things that may cause some pain. However, remember that we are doing this, first, to give glory to God. This includes standing up for what he teaches. Secondly, we do so out of love for that person. We do not want them to keep on this particular path, because it could mean that they will spend their eternity apart from God. This does not mean that when we speak the truth to others, we can expect that they will always appreciate what we have to say. On the contrary, we should expect that there will be some who reject us and want to have nothing to do with us. However, may God give us a love for him and for others to “speak the truth in love.” (Ephesians 4:15)
When Jesus speaks about this, he does not do so as something that might happen. It will happen when we live for God. So, we might ask ourselves, is it all worth it? We find the answer in verse 39, which is really the turning point in the whole text, “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” When Jesus speaks about finding our life means that we lose our life, he is speaking of looking for worldly peace, only to lose out on our eternal life. We gave up an eternity of peace for a few moments of peace during this lifetime.
It is in the second half of that verse that we find our comfort, even in the face of trouble. “Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” It might literally mean that we lose our earthly life as we confess Jesus. If that is the case, then we know that we have eternal life waiting for us. However, this is not likely, at least not at this time in our country’s history. So, how can we lose our life for Jesus’ sake? We do so by giving our entire lives over to following Jesus. We want all our actions and words and thoughts to be in line with what is pleasing to God. We do not do this because we hope to earn a spot in heaven. That has already been accomplished by Jesus. Salvation is ours through faith in him. Rather, we want to give our lives over to Jesus to thank him for all that he has done for us.
Living for Jesus has great rewards, though the unbelieving world may not always see it that way. However, if you do things God’s way, your life will be better. If you do not lie, people will trust you. If you do an honest day’s work, people will be glad that you are their employee. If husbands and wives love and honor each other, there will be a good relationship. The list goes on and on, when it comes to blessings that we enjoy on the earth.
Moreover, there are blessings waiting for us in heaven. We will have the peace that the world so desperately is seeking. It will be a peace that will have no end. It will be a peace where we will not have to deal with all that makes life so difficult here. It will be a peace between all people. This is a peace that we have to look forward to because God, for the sake of the work of Jesus and through faith in him, has accepted us as his own. Though there may be trouble now, there is great joy waiting for us in heaven.
On Mother’s Day, I went to the Renaissance Fair near Omaha. One thing I noted were the many number of vendors that were selling swords, knives, and other bladed things. Some of them were historically accurate. Others were fantasy blades. The one thing that they all had in common was that had no edge. They were just for show. How completely different the sword that each Christian possesses. When we were brought to faith, we received a sword, the Word of God. It has some things to say that others do not want to hear. May God forgive us for the times when we have sought an earthly peace, hoping not to offend others, when they have sinned against God. May God make us willing to speak up for what is right. In addition, may God make us willing to accept correction in the spirit it is intended, so that we might repent of our sins and be assured of forgiveness for the sake of Jesus. May God strengthen all of us so that, though there may be some who reject us for following Jesus, we will remain faithful to him. May God comfort us in knowing that we are accepted by him through the merits of Jesus. Amen.
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