Advent Week #3 Not this, but that: “For I came not to bring peace but a sword”

Throughout the advent season this year we are looking at various statements from Jesus where he tells us clearly why he came. We first looked at Jesus’ words “I came not to do my will but the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38). Jesus taught us that God’s will was for Jesus to secure the salvation of all who’d look to him and believe and that he alone could satisfy the longings of our souls.

The next learned that Jesus called the least and unlikely to himself and did not make someone’s morality a prerequisite for friendship. Jesus came “not to call the righteous, but sinners” and he challenges us to genuinely love and care for people as friends in this world because they’re made in his image and need the restoration and hope that only God can bring.

This week we learn that even as we are shaped by God to be more loving, generous and holy people as we follow him in faith, there will be people who oppose us because of the gospel’s and our allegiance to Jesus. Take a moment to read Matthew 10:34-39 and note anything that seems shocking about this passage of scripture.

What we see is that there is a paradox about Jesus that is presented here. We’re told that he did not “come to bring peace, but a sword”, but in other parts of scripture he is called our peace and the prince of peace. Likewise, we are commanded to seek peace, live peaceably with others and to pray for the unity of spirit in the bond of peace. Which is it…? Is Jesus for or against peace? How can Jesus be this ok with conflict?

What we learn from Jesus here is that our allegiance to him will bring division even among the closest relationships we have, family. Jesus is warning his disciples that there will be threats to our allegiance to him and one of those threats is when we start facing opposition from the people closest to us. Jesus gives us a practical warning, but he also addresses our hearts saying that we cannot love family more than him. To love family more than Jesus would be to make them the center of our life and not Christ, it would be functional denial of Jesus as our peace and our savior. God wants us to honor our father and mother and love our family well, but we do this best when we first and foremost love Jesus and have him at the center of our life.

This sermon and study will discuss the paradox of Jesus being the prince of peace and at the same time his statement about not coming to bring peace but a sword. Likewise, you’ll look at Matthew 10 and how Jesus prepares us for opposition in the world and confronts what we love most.

At your community group:

Spend 15-20 minutes sharing prayer requests and praying for one another.

How did the Spirit speak to you through the sermon and the scripture passage?

Discussion questions:

As a fun opening question for your group talk about: Favorite holiday coffee shop drink Pumpkin Spice Latte or Peppermint Hot Chocolate?

Jesus is called the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Read Romans 5:1 and Ephesians 2:13-19. What kind of peace does Jesus bring?

Read Matthew 10:34-39 together as a group. What is Jesus main idea? Do you think this is still relevant in an individualistic culture like ours today?

Have you faced opposition or rejection to your faith in Jesus from people close to you? Has it been more active or passive resistance? How did you navigate that time and remain faithful to Jesus?

Read Matthew 10:26-33. How does Jesus teach us about God’s character in this passage and how does this motivate our faith and endurance through times where we’re opposed for our belief in Christ?

Read Romans 12:14-18, Matthew 5:9 and Proverbs 16:7. How can we be people who pursue peace with those who oppose us outside the community of faith based on these verses?

Read Ephesians 4:1-3. Why is division within the church so serious and what steps should you take to strive for the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace?

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