Peace or Sword?
Jesus said, "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword" (Matthew 10:34). Occasionally Jesus would make a paradoxical statement so startling as to appear unbelievable. John Clark says that a paradox is truth standing on its head to get attention. This is one of those statements.
Not Peace — Jesus said, "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth." But how can that be? The prophet of God called Him, "Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). When the angel of the Lord announced his birth, the message was "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace good will toward men!" (Luke 2:14). In his great Sermon on the Mount, he said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called the sons of God" (Matthew 5:9). Paul said "having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1). His message is "the gospel of peace" (Romans 10:15). The key to understanding this statement is in the phrase on earth. Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27). Further He said, "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). The explanation of the paradox is that whether or not Jesus came to bring peace depends on where you are looking for it. If your looking for peace with men of the world, forget it. If you are looking for peace with the God of heaven, you can have it.
But A Sword — Both the statement here in Matthew and the two in John are in the middle of a discussion of the apostles’ mission in preaching the gospel. In fact, all of the passages that deal with our peace ultimately have to do with the favor we find with God by acceptance of His great word. The sword with which Jesus came is "the word of God" and it is with "the preparation of the gospel of peace" that our feet are shod (Ephesians 5:15, 17). Isaiah said, "He made My mouth like a sharp sword" (49:2). Hosea said, "I have slain them by the words of My mouth" (6:5). "The word of God is . . . sharper than any two-edged sword piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and joint and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12). The religious world preaches peace at any price, stand for nothing, and let everyone feel good about their own faith. Some even in the Lord’s church are so afraid of division they will not stand up for the truth. However, the word of God is a sword and to those who will not accept it, there is no peace.