“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34)
In Matthew 5:9, Jesus says that a characteristic of His discipleship is that of a peacemaker; yet five chapters later, Jesus says He did not come to bring peace, but rather a sword. How can this be?
This seeming contradiction has caused great confusion. This scripture has been used and abused by some Christian religious zealots as evidence that Jesus condones violence. They justify that Jesus used a sword, but the Scriptures never tell of Him using a sword. So then, what could Jesus have meant in Matthew 10?
Using other key verses in Scripture, we see that Jesus was referring to a symbolic sword rather than a literal one. God is described as having a double-edged sword for a tongue. His words are described as even sharper than a double-edged sword, and His words are referred to as “the sword of the Spirit.” If we are consistent, you get this idea that a sword, symbolically, refers to truth, the Word of God.
Jesus came to bring truth. The Word of God is sharp; it divides, even to the point of dividing people who are close to each other. Why? Because the truth is not accepted or pursued by everyone, and many stand against it. By Jesus just “being,” He created conflict because He is truth. The paradox as we know it is that the truth of God brings peace to those who seek reconciliation through Christ. Peace is founded on the truth of God revealed in Christ. Jesus did not come to bring peace; He came to bring the truth of God, and through that comes peace.
Dear Jesus, thank you for bringing truth into the world. Your Word is sharp and strong like a sword. Show me how to weild your truth in a way that will bring peace to all people.