Peace is Not Guaranteed
Peace is Not Guaranteed
34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 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. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever 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. 40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. 41 The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”
Have we ever thought that there was a price/cost of being a disciple of the Lord? In these verses, jesus clearly states what it will cost a person to be a disciple, and He describes the cost by using four illustrations:
A person’s family
A person’s life
A person’s ministry
How many of us have heard the old saying, anything worth doing is worth doing right the first time? Jesus clearly tells us we have no do-overs in life. Once life is over, then comes the judgment. So, does it seem harsh or critical to put such plain talk into the disciples lives? Nope. Why? Because they needed to know the cost. They needed to understand what could be lost. They needed to comprehend the spiritual, emotional, and physical battles that would face them. It’s a whole lot easier to prepare when you know what’s coming, than to guess for the best.
Not Peace, but a Sword
Not Peace, but a Sword
34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 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. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever 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.
Jesus says He did not come to send peace on earth, but a sword. What did He mean?
He did not come to give His approval to the physical corruption and decay of the earth. The earth and all that is therein ages, deteriorates, and dies. It all wastes away. Jesus did not come to give God’s peace or blessing upon a world that dies. What He came to do was to bring a sword to earth. He came to war against aging and decay and death. He came to slash out, cut away, and put to death the physical dimension of being that condemns everything to decay and death.
He did not come to give His approval to the sin and evil of the earth. He could never give God’s peace or blessing to a world that is so full of cursing and rebellion against God and so full of selfishness and division between men. He came to bring a sword to earth: to war against sin and evil and to destroy all the evil that is both within and without man.
Jesus’ presence automatically causes division. This is because the believer’s godly and divine nature is so completely opposite from his fallen nature. As certain persons heed the call of Jesus, becoming one with Him and the way of righteousness, there is suddenly a division both within and without.
Within there is division between his old fallen, Adamic nature and his new divine nature.
Without there is a division between Him and those who choose to reject Jesus and to follow the way of darkness
The division often occurs among family members and friends when one person accepts Jesus and the other person does not. The saved person becomes a totally new creature, born of God with new ideals and a righteous behavior; but the unsaved family member or friend remains in darkness, continuing to desire the things which please his flesh
Look back at Matthew 10:21
21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death,
The believer must expect persecution. All men of the world will oppose him. Why? “For my name’s sake.”
The first illustration Jesus used is that of a person’s family.
It is important to see that it is Jesus who causes the division. Jesus calls a person out of the world and separates him from the world so that he can go about correcting the evil of the world. If a family member continues to live in sin and to walk ever onward toward the grave without turning to God, two things usually happen. One, the believer struggles to save his loved one, no matter what opposition he may face. Two, the family member rebels against the righteousness and efforts of the believer. The believer is called to a life of righteousness and to a warfare against sin and evil. If a member of his family is engaged on the side of sin and evil, there is a natural conflict between the believer and the family member.
Jesus demands supreme love.
Note the words, “more than me.” Believers are to love their families, but they are to love God more; He is to be first and foremost. Their first loyalty is to be to God. Two terrible things happen when a family is put before God.
1) Families cannot be what they should be without God. No family can reach its full potential without God. Without God a family will lack spiritual growth and strength, conviction and commitment, confidence and assurance, purpose and meaning for all eternity. There will be no prospect and no hope of eternal life, no assurance of anything beyond this life.
2) Families cannot be looked after and overseen by God unless God is given His rightful place in the family. If the family takes control over its own life, ignoring God and His control, then what happens to the family is in its own hands. God is put off to the side, excluded, and shut out. He is given no voice in the life of the family. The family is left all to itself. All kinds of trouble can and usually does follow. There is a lack of spiritual strength to face the trials and crises that confront the family during its life together.
The point is this: we must love God supremely, putting Him before all others, even before our families. When we do, our families are assured of being everything they should be and of being looked after and cared for by God. Therefore, a man’s decision to follow Christ, no matter the sacrifice to his family, is a wise decision; in fact, it is the only reasonable decision. When we allow our families to keep us from serving God and from doing what we should, we are making our families the supreme love of our lives. We are worshipping them, looking after them and their welfare first instead of worshipping and putting God first. When we put our families first, we are allowing our families to become our idols.
Jesus warns the believer that he shall either be counted worthy or unworthy of Him.
There is a great reward for loving Christ supremely. If we count Christ worthy of our first love, He will count us worthy of Him. We are assured: we shall receive the great salvation in Him.
There is a terrible loss for not loving Christ supremely. If we love our family more than Christ, He will count us unworthy of Him. We are assured that we shall not receive the great salvation in Him.
A person’s family is to be the strongest and most precious relationship among human beings. A person is to love his family as much as he loves any others on earth. However, there is one relationship that is to supersede his relationship with his family: that is his relationship to Jesus Christ. He is to love Christ supremely, counting Him more worthy than all, even more worthy than his own family.
The second illustration Christ used is that of the cross.
Christ again made a strong demand. Note the words “He that taketh not his cross.” Every man has his cross. The cross is the symbol of death and of execution. Every man must die to self day by day. He must count himself dead to sin and follow after Christ.
The reward is again being counted either worthy or unworthy of Christ. If we do not put ourselves to death, we are not worthy of Christ. He shall deny us.
The third illustration Jesus used is that of a person’s life.
Jesus demands a person’s life. The phrase “finding one’s life” means that a person seeks his own pleasure and passions in life. It is a selfish life, finding out what pleases self and going after it. It is heaping and hoarding and doing as self wills. It is finding out what gives self life and pleasure on this earth and doing it. But there is something wrong with this. It is selfish. We live in a sinful and evil world: a world of pain and hurt, of starvation and disease, of crime and injury, of accident and wrong-doing, of greed and selfishness, of war and death. The one thing that is needed by all is to deny self: to commit and to lose our lives in Christ, which is to combat evil and to deliver a dying world to eternal life.
He that loseth his life … shall find it.” The phrase “loseth one’s life” means that a person seeks to lose his life on this earth in order to find God. It means that a person gives up the right to order his own life, and he lets Christ control his life. It means that a person’s pursuit must be all consuming, that a person diligently seeks after God. When a person is consumed with finding God, the things of the world just fade away. But the person who refuses to relinquish this right to the Lord misses out on the life God purposed for him. He fails to experience the fulfillment of completing his mission on earth, whereas the person who gives the Lord the right to order his life experiences real life. He experiences that deep sense of fulfillment, satisfaction, and pleasure with his life—even in the face of difficulties and hardships. In addition, Christ says that he will find life, both abundant and eternal.
The reward is losing life vs. finding life. Life, the very thing which a person seeks, is found only in Christ. If a person never finds Christ or if he rejects Christ, he loses life. If he denies himself and follows Christ, he finds TRUE life.
Life—Eternal Life: real life is found only by giving up one’s life to Jesus. The person who refuses to relinquish this right to the Lord Jesus misses out on the life God intended for him. He fails to experience the fulfillment of completing his mission on earth, whereas the person who gives the Lord the right to order his life experiences real life. He experiences that deep sense of fulfillment, satisfaction, and pleasure with his life—even in the face of difficulties and hardships. In addition, he is given that special quality of life called eternal life.
40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. 41 The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”
Christ demands that we welcome and minister to all His servants. Imagine this! The person who ministers to God’s messenger is said to minister to Christ Himself, to God the Father, to a prophet, to a righteous person, and to a little one.
The reward is astounding. The person who welcomes and receives God’s servant shall receive an equal reward.
The person who welcomes and ministers shall receive the presence of Christ and of God Himself. He reflects honor upon the Lord and even upon God Himself. In fact, Jesus says that welcoming and ministering to others is the same as entertaining Him and His Father
Perhaps a person cannot be a prophet or a shining example of a righteous man, but he can receive the reward of both. How? By simply welcoming and supporting and caring for God’s servant. This is an astounding truth: the person actually shares in the work of God’s messenger when he receives and helps him. Christ puts an enormous value on how his messenger is received and treated. If the messenger is welcomed, Christ will give an equal reward for the kindness and care shown to his messenger.
Christ declares that the smallest ministry will not lose its reward. A person will be rewarded for the smallest ministry done for God’s messenger. Just giving a cup of water to a messenger is extremely significant to God. It causes God to say emphatically that a person will be rewarded for such an act. The person needs to know that he is ministering to someone who is very, very dear to God. Christ calls His messengers little ones, which is a term of endearment.
Leadership Ministries Worldwide. (2004). The Gospel according to Matthew: Chapters 1:1–16:12 (Vol. 1, p. 252). Leadership Ministries Worldwide.