Matthew 10:26-11:1 (AD 28)
‘Peas on earth.’
‘Give peas a chance’ (my favourite piece of graffiti, which was on a railway bridge over a motorway outside London for 20 years).
Or as the famous Christian song/hymn says, ‘PEEEEEEEAAAAAAA…son earth’.
But what does the Bible say about peace? Compare these three passages from three different gospels, including the last one, taken from today’s reading:
“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests’”. (Luke 2:13-14)
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 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:-34-36).
Do you see any inconsistency? Of course not, or at least you couldn’t possibly say whether those statements conflicted, without understanding their context. In a similar way to how you could use the phrase “I will fight this to my last breath” and, “I will never leave you” to the same person
Situation 1 was an announcement from the angels outside Bethlehem around the time of Jesus’ birth. The angels wished peace on those to whom God would give peace.
Situation 2 was Jesus talking to his worried disciples, as he spoke to them about his impending death and departure from them. He reassured them that he would grant them the peace they needed.
Situation 3, for some reason, is often regarded as Jesus saying that he would be creating followers who would turn against their own families. As you can see from the context, the opposite is true. The ‘sword’ Jesus brought, was and is in the hands of those who hate Jesus. The context was about warning Jesus’ disciples about all the opposition, hatred and persecution they would receive. Opposition that would lead – for Jesus and ten of the twelve disciples – to being murdered. All the more reason for his subsequent promise of peace – they needed God’s peace for all around them was reason for fear and anxiety.
Be warned: the swords that face you may be entirely metaphorical, but they’ll definitely be there. And they will be wielded by those – possibly including family members – who hate the message of peace with God through the death of Jesus.