Hello! This is Nathan Fisher. I’ve seen my Dad publish a lot of fantastic articles here over the years glorifying God, and this seems like quite a bit of fun.
So anyway, on a more serious note, I was reading an article on the New York Times about “religion.” It correctly attributed the quote,
“I did not come to bring peace, but a sword,”
…to Jesus in Matthew 10:34. However, the author of the article, “How Well Do You Know Religion?,” implied that this shows the violent side of the Judeo-Christian tradition and that Christianity is as violent as or more violent than certain others towards outsiders. Was Jesus saying that He wanted Christians to convert by force, to oppress, or to conquer?
Unfortunately, this shows once again that the Bible has been misinterpreted. When Jesus first began to teach the gospel, He was hated, persecuted, and ultimately executed. This was the same for all of the apostles (except John) and the hundreds of Christians that came after. Those that wanted to preach Jesus’ real words to ordinary folk in their own language, such as William Tyndale, Martin Luther, and others were attacked and pursued.
When Jesus said the above quote, His intention was to show that the message He brought and His death and return to life would bring conflict and strife. His sword was metaphorical: a sword of division. It was not that it was His will to oppress non-Christians, but who He was that would bring trouble. In the evil world we are in, good is not always accepted as what it is.
In fact, Jesus says, and I quote:
“For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law-a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’”(Matthew 10:35-36 NIV, quoted Micah 7:6)
…and this has happened in families throughout history, increasingly so as the events of Revelation draw near.
When He was arrested, the Messiah told Pilate,
“My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews.” (John 18:36)
And another thing about violence, especially concerning the Old Testament:
“For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!” (Ezekiel 18:32)
The sword Jesus is describing was, and is, the violence stemming from the oppression of truth. However, the LORD has a plan to end this. We have the last chapter of history: Revelation.
Oh yes, and lastly, as a comfort to all of us, Jesus told us,
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (Jesus, John 16:33 NIV)