34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. (Matthew 10:34-36 KJV)
This is a very interesting verse that sounds almost contradictory in nature when compared to the other teachings Jesus provided. I think it’s worth taking a closer look to see what is being said here. I believe there may be a couple different ways to interpret this. It’s possible that it has multiple meaning as well; this is not uncommon in the Bible.
My first interpretation is that Jesus is referring to future conflicts that will arise within the family household when religious-related differences arise. Looking at this literally, He may have been predicting the fallout that would ensue after His death. If the Roman government and/or Jewish officials condemned all teachings of Jesus, maybe even to the point of death, as was not uncommon, one could easily envision a scenario where family members would be forced to turn on each other for fear of death or eternal damnation, depending on their beliefs. This is the surface-level interpretation of these verses, but I believe it is important to always look below the surface. This is something that has always fascinated me about the Bible; no matter how many times you read a certain passage, you will no doubt come back to the same passage later on in life and come out having learned something new. There is definitely some truth to referring to the Bible as the Living Word of God.
My further interpretation can be applied to many areas of life and the world we live in. Jesus came as a sword to split the spiritual world from the material world. Jesus knew that His teachings would create huge rifts in the world. I believe He truly wanted to bring peace, but He knew human nature all too well. I think it is safe to say that Jesus was a realist. He knew the truth. He spoke the truth.
Obviously, living in a divided household when it comes to religion will provide plenty of conflict. It is interesting that, based on the titles given in the verse, the young are turning against the old; but it doesn’t say which side is correct. Nowadays it seems almost exclusive that the younger generation wishes to move away from religion and God. While the older folks keep their faith. This could completely flip-flop further down the road. Perhaps our children’s children will once again seek to follow Jesus. We know all too well that the Israelites were constantly in this cycle.
I think we can also apply this to friendships. Making the decision to fully commit yourself to Jesus is nearly impossible for most people, and I think that comes down to the temptation of the material world. Let’s say for example, you were the partying type. Always going out to drink with your friend. If that was the primary way that that group of friends liked to hang out, dropping the Jesus bomb on them would seem like a daunting task. I think most of us are afraid to do this because we know the potential result. It is most likely that they will continue to hang out in the same way and simply write you off as a prude. A lot of people are willing to follow Jesus right up until the point that they have to change how they behave in the material world. Satan loves to whisper that it is okay to let those “small sins” slide. When you truly wish to change, to truly pursue God, it will not mesh with those wrapped up in the material world. Jesus knew this, and this may have been a warning.
The misconception that all things will go great when following Jesus needed to be addressed. These types of verses are often overlooked and not quoted. Jesus brings with Him spiritual peace not earthly peace. He knew it would take a double-edged sword to cut us free from the death-grip of the material world. I think most people, when they truly look at themselves, care far more about what the world thinks of them than what the Creator of the universe thinks. Even among those claiming to follow Christ.
A third interpretation can be applied to the church. This holds up less than my previous examples, but it is worth noting. There is so much division and conflict within the church itself that we can run into the issue of relatives turning on relatives, siblings against siblings, families against families. I see it constantly. All the different denominations with Christianity are a testament to this. Wars were even fought within the name of Christianity. Satan is certainly not barred from entering churches; Churches that are not acting as Christ would have wanted are prime targets for corruption. And what better a way to discredit Christianity.
It’s is important to understand that Satan is extremely crafty and subtle. The last thing he would ever want is for you to realize what he is doing. He goes at length to ensure that the world continues to think that he does not exist. Satan uses the same method that chefs use to boil frogs: put them in and gradually turn up the heat. The frog won’t even notice the difference until it is too late. Be on the look out in your life for even the smallest hints. Take a close look at what you say and do and determine if it is of benefit to your spiritual self, or you worldly self.