Taking Up My Cross: Peace or Sword

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 (NIV)

There have been many people I know who find this verse very troubling. I know one pastor who told me he would never preach on this verse. And then proceeded to explain to me that this verse didn’t mean what it said – on the surface.

Just prior to this verse, Jesus spoke the words that forever changed my life, the words that cut me to the heart and I committed my life to Jesus.

Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.”       vv 32-33

As I sat and heard those words proclaimed, I had to ask myself, “Am I ashamed to say I love Jesus? Am I too stiff-necked to bow to His will and way?” Prior to this moment, I had determined I would never walk up in front of a church filled with people and “give my life to Christ.” I could do it in my heart. That is what matters. It wasn’t necessary for me to make a public spectacle!

It is about my heart. I could say all the right words but if my heart was not truthful, the words would mean nothing. But that night, the 101st Airborne could have been guarding that altar and I still would have pushed my way through and fell on my knees! I was ashamed of myself. I knew only Jesus could heal my broken, beat up heart. And He did. And I am not afraid of acknowledging Jesus at any time!

The verse after Jesus saying He was bringing a sword, tells the disciples just had rough and close to home it is going to be.

For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law – 36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.”                  vv35-36

We are in the midst of all that Jesus has said. Whether we look at the dissension in our biological families or among our brothers and sisters in the Lord’s family, there is division and dissension. What are we to do?

Throughout this chapter, Jesus is teaching us about our priorities. He is opening our eyes to His Kingdom and how we are to live and witness with our lives to others.

Every night I pray and ask God to guide me in the words I speak and write. Jesus spoke often about the Father’s love. He spoke those words of truth. And I want to be an encouragement to His children and repeat those words. Jesus also spoke the truth when He said He brought a sword in His teaching. Paul and the writer of Hebrews speak of God’s Word as a sword, separating truth from lies and opening my heart and spirit to God’s examination. Not all of God’s truths are sweet to my spirit like a Twinkie. Some are tougher teachings and go down like Brussels Sprouts. This is one of them.

What God has said isn’t only alive and active! It is sharper than any double-edged sword. His word can cut through our spirits and souls and through our joints and marrow, until it discovers the desires and thoughts of our hearts.      Hebrews 4:12 (CEV)

Jesus brings the sword because He brings the Truth and sometimes that truth is difficult and divisive. Father God would not have sent the sword if He didn’t care and love us. May we receive all of His word with teachable hearts.

Hear These Praises written & sung by Darlene Zschech

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