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June 30, 2014 – Matthew 10

Click here to read Matthew 10 on BibleGateway.com

peaceToday’s lesson, boys and girls, is on reading the whole Bible, rather than just our favorite verses. Case in point: Matthew 10.

Jesus has many titles in the Bible: Emmanuel, Son of Man, Logos, King of the Jews, etc. But one that gets passed around quite a bit in our time, especially during Christmas season, is Prince of Peace. We’ve all heard the sermons about how Jesus brings peace (and usually joy – they go together like pickles and radiators); you may have even heard sermons about how if you don’t have peace in your life, then you must not be following Jesus.

Now there’s some truth to that, of course. After all, we have the Fruitbasket of the Spirit, and peace and joy are in there amongst the pears of patience and goodness. But we need to be careful not to take this too far. Following Jesus does not mean that you will have no trouble, or if there is conflict in your life, then you are somehow not following God.

THE GREAT DIVIDE

In Matthew 10, Jesus himself tells the disciples (right before sending them on the lecture circuit) that they will have some admittedly peace-less days: they should prepare to be rejected and abandoned, they should be ready to be arrested, they will be hated by everyone. And then he says this great line: “Do not suppose I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” You won’t hear that sung by little wieners in sheep and camel costumes.

So now we have a problem. Jesus tells us that he did not come for peace, yet elsewhere in the Bible, He is clearly called the Prince of Peace. What do we do with this?

Let’s consider this possible interpretation: perhaps the peace that Jesus brings is not between people, but between people and God. In other words, when Jesus is the Prince of Peace, that is referring to the peace that He brings to the relationship that we have with God, not our relationships with other people. Jesus himself, clearly somewhat full of the Spirit, one would think – did not live at peace with all those around Him.

The truth is some people will dislike you because they dislike Jesus; the closer you get to Him, the more you will anger them. The Bible says that darkness hates the light; the brighter you get, the more the dark will hate you. And there’s always the possibility that other people are just jerks (even, gasp, other Christians), and you won’t get along with them. Or perhaps you’re just a jerk – that’s always possible, too.

THE REAL JESUS STANDS UP

The point is that a relationship with Jesus does not guarantee a life of peace; in fact, it may mean just the opposite. Once Jesus entered public ministry, we’d have to skip a fairly large chunk of the Bible to think that his life was peaceful, or even that he was always peaceful. Those poor chumps getting kicked out of the temple with a whip would have probably have preferred a peaceful Jesus.

But that’s not who Jesus is – He is Lord. A Lord may be giving and loving, but they still expect obedience. If you follow a Lord, you cannot follow another, be it money, popularity, prestige, your rights, your ministry, your family, or anything else. To love Jesus you must follow Jesus, and Jesus alone. In our world, that means peace may be hard to come by.

At least Jesus gave you fair warning.

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