“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Matthew 10:34
Sword – If you’re serious about Yeshua’s declarations, this one must upset you. Don’t the angels sing, “Peace on earth”? Isn’t the gospel a message of peace with God? Then how is it possible for Yeshua to so bluntly contrast His mission with this startling declaration? Not peace, but a sword! It just can’t be. Are we so deluded in our understanding of the nature of God that we have missed His destructive intent? Doesn’t this same Yeshua send his disciples out on a mission of peace? What can He possibly mean by such a pronouncement? R. T. France comments, “But the way to peace is not the way of avoidance of conflict, and Jesus will be continuously engaged in robust controversy . . . God’s peaceful rule can be accomplished only by sharing his experience of conflict.” The sword is imagery of harm and suffering. There is no peace without injury for those who are called to be peacemakers. If we would follow Yeshua, we will necessarily have to carry the instrument of our torture.
Step back for a moment and consider God’s plan for peace. It begins with a strategy of suffering and sacrifice. Yes, there is peace. Yes, there is fellowship with God and men. But the price of winning the peace is enormous for both parties. The prophets all died. The holy men of God were rejected, beaten and murdered. The son of the vineyard owner met the same fate. And so do His followers. Those who look for peace without cost have not met Yeshua on the way to Golgotha. They walk a different path – the path of compromise with the world. Yeshua’s path is narrow. It invariably and inevitably results in the world’s hatred and harm. Proverbs tells us the righteous man will fall seven times – the number of completion, the number of his death – and yet he will rise again (eight is the number of new beginnings). The Greek word for witness is martys.
Let’s reassess our willingness to follow. Peter declares that we are called to His suffering and that no harm is too great if we have not yet suffered unto blood. Paul makes it quite clear that suffering is the pathway of the King. God Himself agonizes over this road. He is appalled at the enormity of the cost yet He does not shrink from the price. Are we of that mind? Do we come to Him expecting wounds or do we complain when we are bruised? Are we ready to die in this fight or do we think God promises a tranquil life of our choosing?
Of course, not all battle wounds are righteous ones. The conflict we must endure is the conflict that comes from declaring His name and His way in the world. If His words are on your lips and His feet lead your path, then the blood you spill is worthy of heaven. Maybe it’s time to reassess our view of blessings. Maybe those who seemed to be spared the troubles and travails of living for the Kingdom are really serving in a different army.
Topical Index: sword, peace, martyr, blessing, sacrifice, Matthew 10:34
 R. T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, p. 410.