Questions From Readers
What did Jesus mean when he said: “Do not think I came to bring peace”?
Jesus proclaimed a peaceful message. On one occasion, though, he told his apostles: “Do not think I came to bring peace to the earth; I came to bring, not peace, but a sword. For I came to cause division, with a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” (Matt. 10:34, 35) What did Jesus mean?
Jesus did not want to separate family members from one another, but he knew that his teachings would cause divisions in some families. Therefore, those desiring to become disciples of Christ and get baptized would need to be aware of the consequences of their decision. If they faced opposition from an unbelieving mate or others in the family, it could be a challenge to remain faithful to Christ’s teachings.
The Bible encourages Christians to “be peaceable with all men.” (Rom. 12:18) But Jesus’ teachings can act as “a sword” in some families. This happens when a member of a family accepts Jesus’ teachings while others reject or oppose them. In such a case, the relatives—those within the household—become “enemies” of the one who is learning the truth.—Matt. 10:36.
Christ’s disciples who live in a religiously divided household sometimes face situations that test their affection for Jehovah and Jesus. For example, unbelieving relatives may urge them to celebrate a religious holiday. When put to the test, whom will they please? Jesus said: “Whoever has greater affection for father or mother than for me is not worthy of me.” (Matt. 10:37) Of course, Jesus was not saying that to be considered worthy of him, his disciples had to love their parents less. Rather, he emphasized keeping things in their proper perspective. If unbelieving family members oppose our efforts to worship Jehovah, we continue to love them, but we recognize that our love for God comes first.
Without a doubt, family opposition can be very painful. Still, Jesus’ disciples keep in mind his words: “Whoever does not accept his torture stake and follow after me is not worthy of me.” (Matt. 10:38) In other words, Christians view family opposition as part of the sufferings that Christ’s disciples willingly accept. At the same time, they hope that their good conduct will motivate their unbelieving family members to relent and to look into the Bible’s message.—1 Pet. 3:1, 2.