Sword For Christmas Time
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.”–Matthew 10:34
At Christmas, more than any other time of the year, we wish for peace on earth. If that be the case, then what would inspire me to choose this verse for the Christmas Eve post? Why would I choose to write about the sword instead of the peace? Because the sword and the birth of Jesus intertwine.
Let us begin in Matthew 2:1. “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.”
No one, especially a king, likes the idea of replacement. The very thought brings out the worst in people. Continuing in verse 4, we read, “And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it was written by the prophet.” In verse 6, they reveal to Herod the words of the prophet Micah. ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel.’”
In verses 7 and 8, Herod devised a plan, and this plan began—as many plans do—with a secret meeting. “Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”
Matthew then tells us of the wise men’s visit to the Christ Child. He tells us of their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. He also tells us how God warned them in a dream not to return to Herod, and how they departed for their own country by another route. Naturally, this did not make Herod happy. We read of his reaction in Matthew 2:16.
Verse 16 reveals, “Then Herod, when he saw he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men.”
“I did not come to bring peace but a sword.”
After reading of Herod’s anger and the massacre that followed, the declaration Jesus made seems all the more poignant. Can you imagine the anguish, the heartbreak, that Jesus’ birth caused to the families of those babies that died? Even the prophet Jeremiah foretold of this sadness. Jeremiah 31:15 says, “Thus says the Lord: “A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.”
Is this what we should expect, lamentation and bitter weeping? Should we never hope for peace? Most certainly not. True, Jesus said He did not come to bring peace on earth, but a sword. Let us look for a moment in the book of Ephesians, Ephesians 6:17 to be more precise. It says, “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…” Read Jesus’ comment one more time.
“I did not come to bring peace but a sword.”
Here is a question for you. When do we achieve peace? To have peace, there must be tribulation, whether it be physical, mental, or spiritual. Without conflict, one cannot appreciate what peace truly is. Before Jesus could offer peace, He had to face tribulation. In last Saturday’s post, Tidings Of Great Joy For All, I said that you can’t speak of the Birth without speaking of the Death, Burial, and Resurrection; this is still true. It is in His death we begin to find peace.
When Jesus died, His enemies thought they had won. Three days later, when He walked out of the tomb, alive and well, the victory was His. Just before the events which led up to His arrest, His crucifixion , burial, and resurrection, Jesus spoke to His disciples. In John 16:33, Jesus told them, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
This is why we can wish for peace on earth. Jesus, the Word made flesh, fought the ultimate conflict, not for Himself, but for us. The sword of the Spirit became the Prince of Peace. The conflict that began in the manger and ended with a stone rolled away is why we can have peace. To achieve true peace—the peace He died and rose again for—you must accept Him as your Lord and Saviour. You must be born again.
To wish for peace on earth is to pray the Peace of God be accepted by all men. This Christmas, let that be our prayer. Let us pray for the lost and for each other. Let us pray for peace. God bless.