Matthew 10:34-42″ The Sword of Peace

Clashes and violence fill our planet, where hatred is as common as the air we breathe. Tune into any news channel, and what greets you? Headlines brim with tales of turmoil. Reports of strife and enmity. Turbulence engulfs—in stark contrast to the virgin-born Christ-Child, whose birthday we celebrated a few months ago.

Here we stand in a world embroiled in discord. Battles rage between nations, groups, families, and within ourselves. Didn’t Jesus, the Savior, come to bring tranquility to this chaos? Does the struggle cease? Where lies my solace? And what do we covet in the peace we seek?

Often, we’ll accept an invented peace, though only a fantasy, if truth be told. A pretend peacefulness comes with an allure. Isn’t this a respite, a break from our storms? No soul yearns for a house where disputes echo through its walls. Ask any child dwelling in a battleground home, always on edge and bracing for the next outbreak. Mere existence is exhausting, bleeding out vitality and sapping one’s strength.

Deep inside, a yearning resonates for a stillness unbroken, and a quest for calm. The seductive call of serenity tempts us. So, we spurn the soft echoes of our conscience, forsaking the gentle nudges in the quiet corners of our minds. Silence rules over accepting pain. Distraction, not confronting the chaos. Our neighbor’s suffering becomes a blurred backdrop in our vision. So, we chase this beguiling illusion, which shapes our lives, directs our deeds, and influences our affection.

Our routines become a sanctuary, a haven amid the madness. Changes unsettle us, rattle our foundations, and stir unease within us. Familiarity can breed a twisted sense of safety, for example, keeping a woman in the binds of an abusive relationship. Does she realize the harm? Yes! Except the anxiety of the unknown frightens her more. So, she lives, trapped in her self-made fortress, by walls built not of stone but fear.

So, we stand unyielding while aware of our destructive leanings. These whisper to our dread of venturing into the unfamiliar. A strange dance unfolds. Our ache for authentic calm sways against our hesitation to let go of the deceptive comfort we prize. This exposes our true selves, often fearing the unknown more than the chaos we perceive. So, to the delusion, we cling.

Is this peace? Oh, we may skirt the issue, but do we untangle any knots? Did you at one time eat with a couple entangled in a fractured relationship who dealt with their problems by ignoring them? The air grows dense and near touchable. The meal turns awkward. Soon, you find an excuse to leave early. No matter if you tread with cautious steps, nobody thinks this forms the essence of real harmony.

Hidden costs lurk underneath the guise of a phony peace. Forged serenity exacts its due. An imitation calm carries its price. Contemplate the relationships where touchy subjects lie dormant in a pact of silence. Yielding is the mantra. Coexistence is the creed in the name of a counterfeit accord. The toll rings in tense smiles, hushed whispers, and unspoken words. Beneath the veneer of tranquility, strains of conflict strum.

A fictitious peace can carry a lethal sting. A life revolving around maintaining appearances is to inhabit a lie. Friendships centered on getting along, devoid of rich dialogue and honest discourse, are wispy shadows of what they might be. To live this way incurs a much higher cost in our communion with our Lord. Peel away the pretense, for if we’re used to hiding things from ourselves and others, will we not do the same with God? True contentment never comes when we hide ourselves from God.

So Jesus must manifest Himself by disrupting our notions and turning everything on its head. Is “Prince of Peace” not among His messianic titles (Isaiah 9:5)? Of course! Did John the Baptizer’s father pronounce He will “lead our feet on the path which brings peace” (Luke 1:79)? Yes, but Christ speaks a puzzling proclamation of coming to bring a sword. This paradox of a Messiah claims to direct our way on the footpath toward peace. Except He demands confrontation, not evasion, honesty, not pretense.

Ancient Hebrew intonates with true peace in its word “shalom.” More than a mere truce, this idea sings of healing—for our entire being. Shalom echoes with harmony for your fellow humans and with God.

God, in His wisdom, maps the road to a state of lasting serenity. Shalom begins with mending hearts split by sorrow, bridging the chasm separating us from Him and each other. Much inside you and me needs transformation and purification. Our old trails must fade so new life blooms forth. Now, peace from God can reign supreme.

The journey to true contentment doesn’t come through deceit and compromise. Such half-measures betray God’s nature and whom He made us to be. Reject such siren calls of self-deception and dreaming. These lead to spiritual ruin.

So Jesus proclaims, “Not peace, but a sword I bring,” slicing away the dishonesty and deceptive harmony. Ah, but He does this to give us His shalom. Jesus’ plan is the unexpected and the unimaginable, as Paul wrote. “God’s peace, beyond our utmost understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

In Jesus’ day, embracing His teachings often forced severing ties with familiar comforts. This meant parting ways with family, cutting the cord binding one to the Jewish fold. Affirming what is true stirs up a tempest. This will bring us face-to-face with the falsehoods our world holds dear.

Speak the truth and expect the sparks of discord to fly! Pronounce each person’s life as precious, from conception to final breath. Profess our sexuality as a gift God reserved for the sacred bond between a man and a woman. Proclaim right and wrong, and a moral compass guiding our actions toward life and joy while others bring destruction.

To find true peace, we must first strip bare the cunning deceptions lulling us into a deceiving calm. These weave their tangled web of deceit, keeping us from finding harmony within ourselves, one another, and God. These tether us to our comfortable sins, preventing real peace from taking root.

The heavenly blade of conflict brings shalom, true peace. After we face our fabrications, we recognize our fellowship with God isn’t as it should be. Of course, we spoke words better left unsaid and made many mistakes. Other times, what we didn’t bother doing and saying owns us.

True peace doesn’t begin within us. Genuine shalom is never our creation, whether inside you or me, our relationships, or this world. Oh, we interfere with God’s work in our lives, but we can’t originate what He only can do. Extend this thinking to our contemplations of God. Why should He love such a shattered soul as mine? In our fallenness, we err and falter. Why should perfect Divinity embrace someone so flawed?

At last, we chance upon the greatest lie to leave our lips. Do our missteps and errors make us unredeemable, too far astray for His love to reach? Do my fractures run too deep? Is my soul too broken for Jesus to reconcile? Our flaws and stumbles do not define our worth in God’s eyes, nor diminish the depth of His affection.

Ah, but this truth remains—we can’t forge our peace with God. Oh, we might try, but we always fall short. Behind the facade of calm lies a brewing storm. Our attempts at peace crumble into discord. So, in our striving and struggles, we may settle for a false peace, the best we sinful creatures can achieve.

Here’s where the blade cuts: God’s affection for us is too strong to allow us to live in our lies. So, He steps into our mess and makes real peace with us. The love of God-become-flesh seizes the sword, inseparable from His presence in His act of redemption. By this sword, He slices through the falsehoods. Jesus bears the weight of our sins, accepting the nails and enduring the spear. Through His sacrifice, He reconciles our brokenness, closing the chasm between us and God.

Earlier in Matthew 10, peace described salvation, which the preaching of the kingdom of heaven brought to its hearers. “God’s Word is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, he pierces to divide soul and spirit, joints and marrow, judging the thoughts and purposes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). The vision shared by John in Revelation further emphasizes this, with a sharp sword emerging from Jesus’ mouth (1:16). These passages show He didn’t come to extend a fleeting reprieve. No, life through His saving Word.

The peace our Savior supplies, which endures through tribulation, is unlike whatever a corrupted creation can offer. This He heralds later in John 16: “In this world, you will face persecution. Take courage, for I’ve conquered the world!”

In the saga of divine love, Christ emerges as the hero. The champion wields the sword of His Word. Not an assault, but a rescue, brandishing His blade, not to destroy but liberate. Sharp and precise, He severs through our self-deceptions, opening the way for the light of His redemption to pierce our hearts.

Now, when we confront our lies, a transformation occurs. In God’s dance of truth, freedom unfurls. Chains break, shadows flee, and salvation shines. The fictitious tranquility we clung to crumbles. In its place, the peace Christ earned and gave blossoms anew. Gone is the false deception as we cradle in the embrace of Christ’s shalom. Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled! Amen.

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