What Did Christ Mean?
By Stating that His Purpose is to Bring “Division” on Earth
Luke 12:51-53; Matthew 10:34-36
Jesus the Christ (Gk. Christos: the Anointed One, the Messiah), the Son of God (i.e., God manifested in the flesh), made a number of exceedingly significant statements during His ministry prior to being crucified on Calvary.
One which brings astonishment and confusion to many Christians, even though this should not be the case, was His comments to His disciples (vs. 1), particularly Peter (vs. 41), as recorded in the 12th chapter of the book of Luke, as follows:
(51) Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division.
(52) For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three.
(53) Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
The apostle Matthew recalls a similar statement by Christ to His apostles as is recorded in the 10th chapter of the book of Matthew, as follows:
(34) Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.
(35) 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;
(36) anda man’s enemies will be those of his own household.
Although these comments by Christ appear to be in conflict with the very nature of God – one of love (1 John 4:8), mercy (Ephesians 5:4), and grace (Ephesians 1:7) – in reality, they are not. They do not address the purpose of God for man, rather, they only depict the reality of that which occurs when one who is “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1, 5) awakens to (understands) the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, a process that takes place by and through the Spirit of God (John 16:8-11), and is “made [spiritually] alive” (Ephesians 2:1, 5) by and through faith in Jesus Christ (Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8) and subsequently lives among others in this world, those who are his family, friends, and associates.
God’s original (and continuing) purpose for the creation of man, in this author’s eyes, was twofold, as follows:
1) To create a being in the image of God (Genesis 1:26, 27), which is to say a being who apart from all else that God created would be gifted the ability of self-will, the ability to independently choose a moral path of existence. Such a creation would then allow God Almighty to have companionship and fellowship with another being, which is reflected in Scripture by the relationship between God and Adam and Eve in the Garden (Genesis 3), as well as the walk between God and both Enoch and Elijah, resulting in their exemption from physical death in order to be closer to God (Genesis 5:22-24; 2 Kings 2:11).
2) To entrust to man the responsibility of “dominion over” (ruling over) the earth and its other occupants (Genesis 1:26-28).
Both of these objectives embodied in the creation of man have never changed. Both are and will be realized in Christ. The first is realized in Christ and in Christ alone, for only through Christ can man regain a personal and close relationship with Almighty God (John 14:6). And the second will be attained by those within the “body of Christ” who achieve the status of “overcomers,” thereby becoming part of the “bride of Christ” and then reigning and ruling beside Him over the earth during the kingdom age (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26, 27; 3:5, 12, 21; 19:7, 8; 20:4).
But one’s continuing relationship with God after being born again (Gk. “from above”) through faith in Christ will never be a serene and hassle-free experience. And this is essentially the message that Christ is endeavoring to convey to His disciples during both situations recorded above. Furthermore, Scripture is replete in both example and instruction that Christians will be exposed to suffering and difficulty if they choose to live for Christ during their temporal life, not only from those afar, but from those close around them.
And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:21, 22)
And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance. (Romans 5:3)
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Romans 8:16, 17)
For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake. (Philippians 1:29)
Christians must never forget that the “god of this age [Satan]” (2 Corinthians 4:4) never tires as he “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8b), particularly with those who are closest to the children of God, i.e., family and friends.
And should you, the reader, believe Christ in His earthly ministry was exempt from this insufferable behavior by those closest to Him, note the following from Matthew, chapter 13.
(54) And when He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works?
(55) Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas?
(56) And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?”
(57) So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.”
(58) Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
But be assured that if you meet the test, if you endure, there will be great reward.
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceedingand eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17, 18)
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ . . . receiving the end of your faith – the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:6, 7, 9)
(Please note that the “salvation of the soul” in only one aspect in God’s comprehensive redemption plan for mankind. A thorough study of this may be found by accessing the book, Salvation of the Soul, by Arlen L. Chitwood at http://bibleone.net/SOS.htm.)
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
(1 Peter 4:12, 13)
This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him.If we endure, we shall also reign with Him . . . . (2 Timothy 2:11, 12a)