Jesus is called the Prince of peace yet he did not come to bring peace on earth. Jesus’ own words verify this: “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For 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; and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household”(Mt 10:34).
Jesus spoke about peace, a sword, and enemies. For some, these words of our Lord are contradictory. Others find them difficult to accept. Yet others consider them challenging to apply.
So, the Master said that He did not come to bring peace. And yet, He is called “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Again, the Bible says that “He Himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14). Through His servants “He came and preached peace” (Ephesians 2:17). His message is described as “the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15). Furthermore, His kingdom is a kingdom of peace (Romans 14:17).
The above truths show the obvious connection between the Christ and peace. He wants people to be at peace with their Creator. He wants people to be at peace with one another, even declaring that those who are peacemakers are happy/blessed (Mt 5:9). He also wants every human to have the peace of God that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7).
However, the consequence of His coming brings turmoil, division, and conflict. In fact, because of Jesus and what He did for humanity, we could say that His coming brought about both peace and conflict. For those who follow His teachings, there is peace. When non-followers oppose His teaching or faithful servants, there is conflict. There was conflict between Stephen and the Jewish Sanhedrin (Acts 7). That conflict led to Stephen’s death. There was conflict between the apostle Paul and idol worshipers, Paul and prejudiced Jews, and Paul and false teachers within the church.
Jesus talked about children being against parents, as well as mother-in-law being in non-peaceful relations with a daughter-in-law. What exactly is the cause of such conflicts? Some people are committed to following Jesus; others are not. Some non-Christian family members antagonizing, berating, and despising God’s children and their choices. The conflict is unmistakable. Such division is real, and it is not pleasant. It can escalate to the point of physical abuse or causing family members to choose not to live together.
Jesus gave a specific illustration of conflict which He had in mind, saying, “For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three” (Luke 12:52). These statements simply emphasize that in those families in which some are Jesus’ disciples and some are not, there will be real division. In fact, back in our original text, we find that Jesus said a person’s enemies will come from His own household (Mt 10:36).
The Lord want us to love our families. We are to treat them with kindness and respect. However, the reality is, they may in some fashion oppose our efforts to serve Jesus and put His Cause first in our lives (Mt 6:33). When such opposition comes, our allegiance must be to our Lord, loving Him above any and all earthly ties (Mt 10:37) and being prepared to submit to His will, regardless of the consequences that we might have to face with unhappy family members.
It is obvious that to bring peace on the earth there must first be conflict. Any peaceful nation must go to war from time to time against nations who oppose them. Jesus was emphasizing this kind of conflict, not only with our families, within the church, but with the world at large. This is why Christians are called soldiers of Christ, who must put on the whole armor of God in order to defend themselves, in order to prove, defend and contend for the faith (2 Tim 2:3,4 ff; Eph 6:11-18; 1 Thess 5:21; Philip 1:15-18; Jude 3). Soldiers must pledge their allegiance, and as Christian soldiers we must take the side of Christ or we won’t be accepted by Christ (Lk 14:26). In the end of all things, peace will come to all of the same like faith. This is the one faith, the one baptism, the one gospel which saves all who will obey it (Eph 4:4,5 f; Eph 1:3). Thus, peace comes within the Lord’s church who are abiding by the gospel and doctrine of Christ. Not the peace of error but the peace of truth (2 Jn 1:3). Even a greater peace comes to all who die in the Lord! (Rev 14:13)