This statement of Jesus is startling, coming as it does from somebody known as the Prince of Peace. It is easier to imagine Jesus in a calm demeanor, indeed as source of our peace, than to see him as the bringer of sword or division.
The Jews, like most peoples, prioritize and honor the family above anything else. Jesus’ teaching strikes at the heart of family relationships. He declares that loyalty to him requires ultimate obedience, and in the process may require a person to choose Jesus over one’s relatives. Jesus quotes the prophet Micah (7:6) who speaks of divisions that will come to families because of the different responses to the word of God.
Gospel • MATTHEW 10:34—11:1
Jesus said to his Apostles: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. 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; and one’s enemies will be those of his household.
“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is righteous will receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple — amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.”
When Jesus finished giving these commands to his Twelve disciples, he went away from that place to teach and to preach in their towns.
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