Did Jesus Come to Turn People Against Each Other?

Did Jesus Come to Turn People Against Each Other

Daily Reading: (Matthew 10:35):

“For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

There is an old saying that if you want to have peace at Thanksgiving Dinner never talk about what…? Politics and religion. This verse when it is isolated by itself sounds a lot different from what many have thought about Jesus, did He really come to turn people against one another?

This is shocking what Jesus said. It most certainly isn’t what we picture in our minds of what Jesus came to do or the way we see in which how Jesus interacted with others. A great majority of believers don’t know what to do with this verse. Context is always vital to our understanding. What did Jesus have to say before and after this shocking statement, when we look at the whole of what Jesus said, then we will understand what His words here mean to us and actually help us when people, even loved ones persecute us for our faith in Jesus.

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). I thought Jesus said He gives us His peace? “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). So, did Jesus come to bring peace or a sword? The Messiah is prophesied in the Old Testament as a Lamb that would be slain for the sins of the world. By doing so He brought peace and reconciliation with God our Father not to the world but to only those who would believe and receive His sacrifice for them. This is why Jesus said not to the world, but to His disciples, the promise that He has given us His peace. We have it always, but here He says I have not come to bring peace, but a sword and He is speaking about the world.

Jesus is not speaking of a literal sword, in Revelation 19:15 it says, “Coming out of His mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.“ When Jesus first appeared to John in a vision at Patmos, a sharp two-edged sword proceeded from Jesus’ mouth (Revelation 1:16). The returning King of kings and Lord of lords uses this sword to “strike down the nations.” Since the sword of the Lord represents His Word (Hebrews 4:12; Ephesians 6:17), it is reasonable to expect Jesus to mow down His foes with just a spoken word. He brought the world into existence by His speech (Hebrews 11:3), and He can assuredly destroy His enemies with just a word from His lips.

Jesus is speaking of a sword of truth, and truth is divisive. What happens as a result of Jesus who is the truth, coming to the world? ““For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.”

People divide themselves by their response to Jesus, who He is, and what He came to do. When a Jewish believer was water baptized in the first century, they would be disowned by their family. They would receive a slap on the cheek, which was the deepest insult and they were they were put out of the Synagogue- separated forever from their family and their religious community. Everyone has a decision to make and that decision about Jesus would 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.’

Jesus said: “a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household” (Matthew 10:36). At this part Jesus is quoting from Micah 7:6. What this means is that the spirit of Christ can have no union with the spirit of the world.

Jesus’ mission wasn’t to turn people against each other, this is a byproduct of what happens from what Jesus’ mission did which is stated clearly in Luke 4:18-19: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Jesus’ mission was to set the captives free and proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and this mission will turn people against each other.

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Take Up Your Cross

Take Up Your Cross

Daily Reading: (Luke 9:23): Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”   

How do you react to this text? “Whoever wants to be a disciple of Jesus must… take up their cross daily and follow Him.” The way I have heard this verse commonly and incorrectly used is in the preaching of self-denial. If this were true then the Gospel would not be good news. If we had a bad day or screwed up and didn’t properly deny ourselves, well I guess we’re just not a disciple of Jesus anymore. If this were the case it would mean that Christ’s death on the cross was not needed. It would also mean that the more you deny yourself the holier you’ll be. But go ahead and deny yourself from anything and everything and that won’t make you anymore righteous or holy, Isaiah 64:6 tells us that.

Another problem with this interpretation of preaching self-denial as a way of becoming righteous is that it will leave you anxious and insecure. “Have I denied myself enough?” Jesus suffered and die on the cross so that we might be free from this sort of religious way of life.

So, when we come to Luke 9:23 we must ask two very important questions if we really want to understand what Jesus is saying.

  • Question 1: Who is Jesus talking to in this verse?
  • Question 2: What Covenant are we now living in?

In verse 18 it says- “Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?” this progresses until we get into our verse.  If you want an even clearer answer where you don’t have to back up a few verses to understand who Jesus is referring to just read Matthew’s version (16:24).

The disciples were still living in the Old Covenant system. The New Covenant we live in was enacted after the death of Jesus. One purpose of the Old Covenant was to make it absolutely clear that no man is righteous before God and that no one can save himself (Romans 3:10–11, 20). “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” There are no off days if you are living according to your righteousness. The ultimate purpose of the Old Covenant was to point people to Christ: “The law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian” (Galatians 3:24–25). The Old Covenant established our guilt before God and our need for a Savior.

So. the correct translation of what Jesus is saying in Luke 9:23 happens as we continue moving forward in the text in the next two verses, verses 24 and 25.

“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self” (Luke 9:24-25)?

When Jesus says, “Follow me,” he’s saying the way to salvation is through Him and His cross. In the New Covenant taking up your cross daily doesn’t make sense and is impossible to do because you were already crucified (Galatians 2:20). I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me… (Gal 2:20a). The reason most Christians struggle to live the Christian life is they look at Luke 9:23 and are trying to die daily, they do not know they have already died with Christ.

“To deny yourself” (Luke 9:23) means to trust Jesus instead of self. Live each and every day out of the glorious relationship you have with the Lord. This Greek word “deny” (aparneomai) is to forget one’s self, lose sight of one’s self and one’s own interests. This denial of self is the same thing for all Christians that the cross was for Jesus, namely, the submission to God’s will, not one’s own will.So, in our text Jesus made the cross central. Our Lord’s death was an absolute requirement and precondition of human redemption. As long as the will of man opposes the will of the Lord, salvation for that individual remains impossible.