Read Matthew 10:34-36
34 “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.
35 ‘I have come to set a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
36 Your enemies will be right in your own household!’ (NLT)
So here we have the ‘Prince of Peace’ declaring that he hasn’t come to bring peace on earth. What is going on?
Most of us have lived long enough to know that some accept Jesus whilst others reject him. This brings about an inevitable division. The fact that some in a family household are Christians and others are not may not inevitably lead to hostility or enmity, but there will be differences of opinion and perhaps some degree of conflict.
It is not as if Jesus wants this. Division in families is not his desire but a consequence of who he is and what he says. It is not his intention to cause such division. It is his intention to offer people new life with God. But the very fact that there are differing responses to this offer means that there is some division even amongst those closest to us.
We need to note that Jesus says this in the context of warning his followers of the cost of discipleship. Some families are wonderfully harmonious because of Jesus; others are split because of him. Jesus’ followers will always want to be gracious and seeking peace and reconciliation, but we can’t guarantee these things.
Our first priority is to follow Jesus, not be the guardians of family order. Often these two priorities coincide. Jesus here warns us that sometimes they don’t.