Jesus: The Sword of Peace
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
“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).
Are these conflicting verses? “Prince of Peace,” and, “not peace but a sword”?
“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven. Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 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—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. 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; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:32-38).
Does that sound pretty harsh for the Prince of Peace?
Something we need to understand about the Prince of Peace is that there is no way you can study His Life and conclude that He came to sing a lullaby to humanity and tell us that, “Sin doesn’t matter.”
Jesus Christ came in the name of God with a sword to declare war on all of the things that prevent peace.
He’s drawn His sword against all of the evil in the hearts of men to uproot all of the evil attitudes and habits. He will make no peace with any of it. Why not? Why can’t He just “cut the world a break”? He CANNOT... for the sake of REAL Peace.
There was a time at the end of the Revolutionary War when the British General came to surrender to General George Washington. The General began to praise Washington with flowery words about his magnificent military tactics, going on and on. Suddenly, in the midst of the British General’s eloquent speech, Washington interrupted him with these words: “Your sword, Sir!”
The Prince of Peace is calling for every sword of rebellion to be handed over, until all things are brought under His feet (Heb. 2:7), then peace will happen. “All enemies are His footstool” (Heb. 1:13).
The WAY Christ makes a way of peace is by showing us how wicked sin really is... and destroying it. Adam was thrown out of the Garden for it. Noah’s entire earth population was destroyed by God because of it. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of it. And the Cross of Christ proves that God cannot live in peaceful coexistence with sin! Even God’s own Son had to die when He took on sin.
Let’s read the context together in Matthew 10, and see how Christ can wield a sword AND be a “Prince of Peace.”
“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).
But what happened just prior to this?
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:35-36).
“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8).
“Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues” (Matthew 10:11-17).
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:28-31).
Jesus saw the crowds and was moved with compassion. “Go! Bring peace to the starving multitudes. They’re scattered. They’re easy prey for the wolves. I must draw my sword to make peace! I love them, the hairs on their heads are numbered! I must give them peace. Peace comes from Victory.” He took CAPTIVES in His train, and gave THEM gifts!
All of this brings up an important distinction—who are the “enemies” of Christ and who are the “weak”? Christ does have “enemies” or He wouldn’t need a sword or need to separate members of a household.
Jesus Christ has “enemies” (Lk. 11:23):
• the proud (1Pet. 5:5)
• those that have called a truce with the world—decided to live their way (Jas. 4:4)
• those that teach false doctrine (Rev. 2:6)
• lukewarm (Rev. 3:16)
• lazy, fearful, unproductive (Mat. 25:26-30)
Christ has “enemies.” So what’s the difference between an “enemy” and a “weak Christian”? (Not much in actions.) A weak Christian may act exactly the same as a “religious” enemy of Christ... The difference is the Heart. One wants to grow and change, and by the Grace of God, keep moving in the Right direction! The other kicks and fumes and finds excuses whenever challenged... refusing to move towards maturity and change. (He tries to find a doctrine that will ease the conscience—2Tim. 4.) For the rebellious, Jesus has a sword. But for the weak (who might have some of the same actions), Jesus, Prince of Peace, has a hug and infinite patience. (Father loves us as much as Jesus! Prince! Princess!) That’s good news!
In Romans 14 and Hebrews 12:12-13, God acknowledges that there will be feeble and weak and lame in the fold, but His every effort is in Healing them, not tearing them up! The word “weak” or “weakness” is used eighty-seven or eighty-eight times in the New Testament and never once is “weakness” (feeble; without strength) condemned! Jesus will always lean over and carry the rubbery-legged lamb.
A 3-year-old child is another good example of the difference between enemy (gets sword) and weak (gets hug). A 3-yr-old would just as soon yell, “No!” into the face of a king as he would his little sister. He has no understanding! No value system—he’s too young. Then consider a grown man yelling, “No!” into the face of the king. Big difference, right? When we are still “babies” in the faith, we’ll make those mistakes because we haven’t understood the awesome nature of our King! But, as time goes on, it’s no longer immaturity, but treacherous mutiny. The Prince of Peace has a sword to meet mutiny, but it’s not His desire!
Jesus never tried to minimize sin. He never ignored it. He hates sin with a fury! But by His precious Blood, He paid the price for sin for those who will accept it! (Eph. 2:14; 2Cor. 5:19). He wants to bring peace to His friends—even before they even care. Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, became our peace with the Father by giving His life!
In John 8, the woman caught in adultery was told by Jesus, “I will not condemn you. Go, and don’t sin again.” If we had been there, I’m sure we wouldn’t have heard a thing as she walked slowly away. But Jesus did. He knew the cost of His kindness to her. As she walked away, I’m sure He heard the whiz of the whip as it came towards His back. He heard the mockery and slander of the soldiers echoing in His mind. He heard the weeping of His mother at the foot of His cross. He heard the dull thud of the hammer driving the spikes through His hands and feet. The woman was set free the same way you and I can be set free, but someone paid for it—the Prince of Glory. The Prince came to bring peace to those that will follow Him—the peace of assurance of Life in paradise with Him.
In John 14 and John 16 Jesus said to His disciples, “In this world, you will have trouble, but take heart! I’m giving you My peace!” Do you have “trouble” right now? Do you have peace in spite of that? How do you get the peace that Jesus is the Prince of? I’ll just consider one more verse with you and you can judge for yourself.
“This is what the LORD says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea’” (Isaiah 48: 17-18).
What is our “peace like a river” dependent on? Obeying God!
“There is no peace,” says the LORD, “for the wicked” (Isaiah 48:22).
A trustworthy saying: Peace with God brings the Peace of God. Our walking with Him, keeping in step with His Spirit (Gal. 5:25) is the only thing that will allow the “peace that passes understanding” to flow through our hearts and minds even in unbearable circumstances! God is offering you Life and Peace, but many will jump headlong into the Ravine of Destruction. God is offering Jesus Christ; some of you may be choosing Barabbas. Jesus Christ wants to take your broken pieces (or your family, emotions, failures) and give you unbroken peace. Praise God, the Prince of Peace is Reigning! For those who will live for Jesus, there will be “peace like a river.” Imagine the Glorious thought of every sin of your past washed away... PEACE WITH GOD!