Editor’s note: Welcome to Campfire Scripture. These are short (or shortish) Bible verses and a very short, manful devotional every week day.
So pull up a stump, put the billy on and enjoy.
Book Author and Date:
Matthew the self-confessed tax collector, a disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ, 50-70 A.D. It was written no later than the destruction of the Jerusalem temple A.D. 70.
Jesus Christ, Wisdom, Sin, Teaching, Hard truth.
Matthew’s target audience was Judaism/Christian converts. He quotes heavily from OT prophecy and points to Christ as the promised Messiah.
Chapter ten begins with Christ sending out the twelve under His authority, but not before a lengthy instruction. This passage fits in with Christ instructing the apostles in ministry and is describing His purpose and what they can expect by following him.
What I reckon:
It’s quite clear from the surrounding text, and Christ’s teaching elsewhere that the sword here is metaphorical. However, it’s also clear from the surrounding text, and Christ’s teaching elsewhere that the cost of following Him is division and hardship. This goes for all believers, not just the apostles.
Christ is making it clear to the apostles not just that people will reject and hate the message of the cross, but that Christ came specifically to create division. He would not tolerate false believers, or those who were passive and fearful to proclaim his message of salvation. If you deny Christ, He will deny you. Christ had compassion for humble, repentant sinners (who He unfailingly charged to leave their sin); he had nothing but righteous contempt for the proud and hard hearted phoneys.
But if you think that calling out sinners to repentance and standing confidently in opposition to the encroach of evil in our culture and politics makes a man (or woman) proud, then you miss the entire point of a passage like this. So many Christian’s are out preaching a message of unconditional love, compassion and inclusivity, ‘Shouldn’t we just be loving everyone?’, and it’s falling short of truth seeking men who charge Christianity with being full of ‘weak pussy’s’ (prove ’em wrong I say). That’s the cost of watering down the gospel and avoiding hard truth; we fill the pew’s with passive half-hearted believers, and let those potentially fervent Christ filled men of God fall by the way side.
And no, it’s not their unbelief that leads them astray if we don’t preach the truth to them, it’s our silence that lays their blood on our hands. Just as it is on our hands if we preach to them a message of false hope.
Ouch. Yeah I know… you think I like the sound of that?
Just be grateful that your salvation is earned by belief and repentance, not earned by how many other people you save (or fail to save).
Remember, peace is not the avoidance of conflict, it’s the eradication of evil. This is something only the blood of Jesus Christ has been able to do. If you’re not charging non believers to turn from sin, and accept Christ, then you’re not looking for peace, you’re looking for approval. If all you’re preaching is love, it’s not because you love others, it’s because you want them to love you.
All Campfire Scripture passages are taken from the New American Standard Bible, unless otherwise stated.
John MacArthur, 2006, The MacArthur Study Bible, New American Standard Bible (1995 edition).