The Tabernacle Scroll

Issue 115

“Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.” (Luke12:51, emphasis mine).

This is one of those ‘hard sayings’ of Jesus. Many such ‘hard sayings’ were rejected by the Pharisees and other strict Jews. For example, the thought of eating his flesh and drinking his blood (which Jesus advocated) was hard to accept because it was in direct contradiction to the Law. The Law prescribed the consumption only of certain flesh and expressly forbade the consumption of blood. His hearers had taken him literally and, because of their religiosity, missed the spiritual application of the truth he was speaking to them.

This saying too, at first glance, sounds like a contradiction of so many other scriptures. For example, he is described as the Prince of peace (Is.9:6). His birth was announced by the angels with the message “peace on earth to men of goodwill” (Lk.2:14). And then Jesus said to his disciple before his final departure, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you” (Jn. 14:27).

It is true that Jesus came to bring peace. However, this peace is qualified as being peace between man and God and between fellow believers. It is the peace of reconciliation with God through Christ’s redemptive work. It is inextricably tied in with recognition of sin, repentance and acceptance of Christ. It is not the peace attained though new-age mind games. Nor is it the peace sought through negotiations and treaties, no matter how noble or successful these efforts might be.

So what does this particular saying mean? Looking at God’s dealings with man in history, we find that He uses division as one of his basic principles. He separates people unto Himself according to His plans and purposes both in history and in eternity. This separation (division) is a painful proposition. Abraham was called away from his family in Ur of the Chaldees and told “Go into the land I will show you and be a separate people.” (Gen.12:1). Israel was taken out of all the nations of the earth to be a separate people set aside for his purposes. They were not to mix with the heathen or accept their practices.

When Jesus said he came to bring ‘division, not peace’, he was emphasizing the importance of being separated. The Church is to be a peculiar people, not by removing itself physically, but by separating from the indifferent and ungodly influences of the world as evidenced by its thinking, its way of acting and its way of believing. Inevitably, friendship with God will result in enmity with the world (yes that could include your ‘flesh and blood’ too). That’s hard!

            Devotional                                                                                                                            Preach The Word The Word with Pastor Joseph Rodrigues