“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
This is one of Jesus’ most provocative statements. Isn’t He the Prince of Peace fortold by Isaiah? Did the angels not proclaim “peace on earth” at His birth? Did He not peacefully give Himself up to trial, torture and crucifixion by the Jews and Romans?
Jesus knew that He was divisive. The angels declared “peace on earth… to those on whom His favour rests”. Those on whom God’s favour doesn’t rest often react with violent jealousy to those on whom it does. Jesus brings peace on earth to those on whom His favour rests, but peace for the rest of the world isn’t promised. In fact the rest of the world respond to Christ’s offer of peace with violence.
So has Christ failed? Surely He wants to bring peace on earth, and He admittedly and evidently did not. But for those who trust in Him there is eternal, unassailable peace with God. And when He returns, peace will be enforced, by calling His people home and sending His enemies to their just condemnation.
The division that Christ brings is felt most keenly and seen most clearly in the nuclear family. God brings peace to us on an individual basis. This means that families are often divided between those on whom His favour rests, and those it doesn’t. Most evidently in the Muslim world, this can result in violence towards the believer.
“Lord God, be near your persecuted children. Enable them to stand in the day of trial, and to escape to safety where possible. And may I count the cost of following you, denying myself and taking up my cross. Until you call me home, amen”