“Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” [Luke 12:51]
It is hard to believe that Jesus himself says that he came to bring division when we learned from his teachings that, as his disciples, we are to bring peace from house to house. Isn’t Jesus the Prince of Peace that the prophet Isaiah, in the Old Testament, envisioned? His words and actions spoke of peace throughout his ministry. Why, then, does Jesus seem to contradict these?
Shocking as it is, Jesus in the gospel of Luke is being Jesus. Him who did not need to say sweet words to please everyone; he did not always say what the world wanted to hear. Like in one gospel account, a scholar of the law asked him about the definition of the neighbor, Jesus did not give a direct answer; instead he told the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) to convey his message. On one hand, he spoke directly, with absolute conviction, about the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and teachers of the law (Matthew 23). Jesus had a unique and impactful style of teaching.
Jesus is the Word of God – “sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. [Hebrews 4:12]” Jesus came to speak of the truth. He is the Truth (John 14:6).
And yes, for some of us, the truth hurts; ergo, we rather reject – or ignore – than accept it.
Conflicts between nations arise primarily because of opposing interests and beliefs; and the worst physical outcome of this is a war. Conflict within the family is no different. There is disagreement and disunity because of clashing views. While there may be no armed forces involved, there exists a tension between members of the family, or a family versus another family.
Conflict exists because one group thinks its view is the absolute solution or truth, while the other group thinks otherwise. There is a ‘tug-of-war’ for truth. If the opposing groups cling to their respective truths, will there ever be peace between them?
The scenario of two opposing groups in conflict is the general picture of a world where the Absolute Truth is not recognized. Bi-directional. Multi-directional even. This is exactly what Jesus, in the gospel, is teaching us. Because the world has its own perceived truth, it tends to reject the Absolute Truth. When he said he is the Son of God, not everybody believed – let alone the recognized teachers of the law or the Pharisees. Jesus brings division because not everyone in this world accepts that he is the Truth. And ignoring the Truth does not make any difference.
How we respond to who Jesus is and what Jesus came for divides us. In fact, Scripture labels this division into two groups namely, the “dominion of darkness” and the “kingdom of the Son God loves, [Colossians 1:13]” or the ‘”children of God” and the “children of the devil. [1 John 3:10]” How we live our faith classifies us to either of the two groups – one or the other, no half-breed. Even among family members, division takes place when not everyone is for Jesus (Luke 14:26). He teaches us that anyone who chooses to follow him must love him more than one’s family and friends, and even life itself. He wants us to put God first in our priority. We have to be reconciled with God first.
The division that Jesus brings is one that leads to interior peace. We may clash against our parents, siblings, children, or friends, but that is only a disruption of the exterior peace. Exterior peace can be superficial for often times it is only upheld to avoid conflict or arguing. At one point, an unsettled issue when kept unresolved can erupt without warning. It is therefore risky and wobbly. If we choose Jesus while our family or friends choose otherwise, it is only the exterior peace that is shaken. However, if they also decide to choose Jesus, then we will obtain the same peace; the true peace that comes only from God. Christ’s peace is everlasting. It is the interior peace, one that is not confined within the world’s definition of peace. Christ’s peace does not run out; it does not diminish when we face trials neither does it end when we take our last breath. It endures as long as we believe and trust in the Truth.
Jesus’ message to us has always been consistent. He has never changed being the Son of God who loves us unrelentingly. He is the Prince of Peace that the prophet Isaiah foretold. He walked on earth for us to see the Truth. He came to set us free. And now we are free.
As his disciples, may we live the Word putting God first in our priority and embrace a life that is grounded in the Absolute Truth even if the world thinks otherwise.
Dear Jesus, I adore you. You are my Savior and only Truth. Thank you for coming to rescue me from the world that has glared me with temporary pleasures. I am sorry if I have fallen into the trap of falsity many times. Please take me back in your peace and never let me go. Amen.