Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 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. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.Matthew 10:34-39
There have been countless sociopaths in world history who have tried to use the Bible to justify mass murder, invasions, and even genocide. All of these are a gross misinterpretation of scriptures such as what we have before us today.
Before I explain what Jesus means in this passage, Jesus Himself explained that His kingdom and dominion are not military related.
Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.John 18:36
Any person, nation, or “church” that has attempted to justify war by quoting scripture is wrong and those that teach such are false prophets.
So, having said that, let’s get to what Jesus means by sending a sword. This passage is about devotion or a believer’s dedication to the Lord. Remember, that Jesus used the term “worthy” in respect to those whose houses the disciples would stay in while on their first preaching trip. Jesus defines worthy as those that put Him first in their lives. It is those houses that the disciples were to preach in day by day.
Our worth in this regard doesn’t justify us for a position in heaven. It is simply describing the level of devotion we have for the Lord. Further, Jesus is not telling us to violate the word of God and neglect our parents or not love someone else. He is simply stating that the level of discipleship He has called to is putting Him first in every aspect of our lives.
With this in mind, it is easy to see how this could be violent in our lives. Perhaps that is why the Apostle Paul referred to getting sin out of our lives with the following language:
For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. Romans 8:13
Mortify means to kill!
It is when we put Christ first that we find our true identity in Him. It is when we turn away from sin and distractions of the world that we find our true life. We start living our eternal life now!