"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Monday, May 17, 2010

Matthew 10:32-42 -- Jesus' Divisive Sword

Boy, I've dragged out Matthew 10, but there was quite a lot in here and, really, I'm not in any huge rush to get through the book. After this I hope to post my notes on Quran 7 which I read a few days ago.

Today I shall finish this chapter! Here goes. Remember this is Jesus giving instruction to his disciples. (See this post for the beginning of this chapter's discussion.)

32"Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. 33But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven."

It seems Jesus took this whole relationship thing pretty seriously, huh? None of this knowing Jesus and identifying with his message only when it was convenient. Jesus values loyalty to him and what he stands for!

Want more proof? Check out these next verses.

34"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn
" 'a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law -
36a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.'

37"Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

40"He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me. 41Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man's reward. 42And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward."

Shocking, isn't it? This so-called "Prince of Peace" is talking tough about even dividing families and bringing a sword! He says straight up he didn't come to bring peace! And I've seen many nonChristians on blogs use this to show that Jesus was not the peaceful, enemy-loving person we often like to portray.

So what's the deal?

My Quest Study Bible has this to say ... first about the sword issue:

The peace that Jesus brings is the result of people being "made right" with God. It is a peace that resolves all barriers between one's soul and one's Creator. However, not all people experience this peace from Christ, and those who do not will experience his judgment.

And why would Jesus want to break up families?

These verses illustrate one of the harsher truths of God's kingdom: Not everyone will respond to the gospel. Hearts full of prejudice, hate and pride will resist Christ's offer of peace. Because many will reject it, the message will divide people, families and nations.

My observations:

1. It seems Jesus believes only those willing to put him first are worthy of him. And what's up with this "taking up your cross and following him" thing? Is Jesus wrongly trying to put himself as top priority in life? Or does his message represent God's message, therefore, it would be idolatry to put anything else including mothers, fathers and children ahead of him?

2. What does taking up your cross and following Jesus involve? What does it mean?

3. And what about this, uh, riddle? "Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." Does this mean if we go after things in this life, we will lose out on eternal life? Kind of goes along with that verse: what does a man profit it he gains the whole world yet loses his soul? All this stuff we accumulate in life won't matter much when we face God. I'm thinking God won't care so much about the nice cars in the driveways or the big ol' houses we own. What do you think this means? Does this also show the importance of relationship with Jesus--losing life (here) for his sake equals finding it (eternal life)?

4. This above-mentioned verse also brings to mind Matthew 6:33 -- 33"But seek first his [God's] kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

5. "He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me." -- Does this mean by your accepting Jesus and his message, you are accepting the one who sent him, meaning God?

It seems Jesus put great importance upon his message and if we are one of his followers, so should we.

So now you see why one chapter has taken up 4 posts? There is quite a bit of "stuff" to consider. Important "stuff." And I'm just going to let the last verses speak for themselves because I don't really know what is meant by a prophet's reward and such. Maybe if someone else knows, they can leave a comment to inform me.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this post and the verses mentioned.


Amber said...

'It seems Jesus took this whole relationship thing pretty seriously, huh?'

You mean we can't date the world and see Jesus on the side? *is struck by lightening*

1. Doesn't this follow from the first commandment? 'Thou shalt have no other gods before Me'. If we don't place God first, above *everything* else in the world, we have idolised something. We have placed something over God, and are worshipping falsely - putting us out of heaven.

2. For some, for the people He was actually speaking to, it was pretty literal. They were going to be martyred for their faiths. There are still Christian's being murdered for their faith. For most of us, though, I think it's a forewarning that we will each have a 'cross' to bear. We will have a burden that we must accept and how we respond to it will show our true selves.
Do we accept the cup, or do we run from it?

Suroor said...

Love this post!

I love Jesus and I do seriously acknowledge him :)

BTW, it sometimes makes me sad that there are actually a whole lot of people who don't realise the beauty of the Bible. Every word Jesus spoke is awe-inspiring. I just feel more love for him every time I read what he said.

Susanne said...

Amber, great insights as always. I love it when you take time to share what these verses mean to you and how they apply today. Thank you!

Sometimes I write these posts almost as if I'm trying to see if Jesus made himself out to be God or merely if he is just a messenger with God's message. Of course I agree with you on what you said above concerning the first commandment. I believe Jesus is God, however, in all honesty I'm also going through Matthew "looking for proof" so to speak. I'm *trying* to read it a bit from a different perspective since the other one is so ingrained in me.

Thanks for what you shared!

Susanne said...

Suroor, I'm really glad you enjoyed this post. It's one that tends to be a bit more controversial, I think. I mean this chapter. I see this about Jesus and the sword on Muslim blogs especially as they think it proves Jesus wasn't peaceful. (Maybe they want to assure themselves since Muhammad was known for fighting.)

Honestly one example to me of this passage is when a Muslim converts to another religion and his family decides he must be killed for his apostasy. Is this not Jesus' words here about turning a father against his son and in a sense bringing "the sword"? Of course I don't usually bring that up on other blogs, but here I will since it's my own. :)

Thank you for your comment. I always like when you leave feedback for me. :)

Wafa said...

34"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn
" 'a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law -

This has always made me wonder. I mean everyone knows that Jesus came with the message of peace, so why this ?
Maybe if i know more about the situation he said that in it might make sense to me ?. And how come anyone whose against Christianity or want to prove that it's an evil religion-as they say- quote this saying ?
Don't know, it's confusing to me.

Susanne said...

Wafa', thanks for your feedback. I think if you see the gray writing above - the quotes from the Quest Study Bible - they *may* help. It's just a thought on that passage which may help you understand.

I agree that this passage is used a lot in anti-Christian posts/discussions. That's why I didn't want to rush through this chapter. I felt it too important to gloss over quickly and not at least try to explain some of these troubling parts.

Thanks for your comment. :)