34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; 36 and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ 37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” — Matthew 10:34-39.
Jesus continues to instruct the disciples chosen for His mission. He turns to the goal and requirement of the Gospel.
The Conflict of the Gospel (vss.34-36)
Jesus did not come to bring peace on earth, but conflict! Jesus and His teachings cause conflict in the world to those opposing it. It brings peace to those who surrender to Him. The ultimate goal of the gospel has always been peace with God.
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” Romans 5:1.
The word of God is so penetrating that it acts like a sword, a double-edged one! (cf. Hebrews 4:12). It pierces the conscience of humanity and calls us to love God more than we love ourselves.
Jesus warns that severe conflict can be expected between those who accept the gospel and those who reject it. So much so that ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household’ (v. 36).
Call to Loyalty (v.37)
Jesus reminds them of their need for loyalty. Jesus is not saying that His disciples should dislike their family members. He is telling them that He should be their top-most priority. The emphasis must always be on HIM. He must be above family and self. Jesus is calling for a fierce loyalty that should motivate the disciple to make the most extreme sacrifice if necessary. It is a call to sacrificial discipleship!
Jesus determines Worthiness (vss. 37-38)
What is the object of the disciple’s love? Is it family, friends, possessions, reputation, job, etc.? Jesus says that a disciple who loves family – father, mother, son, daughter – more than Him is not worthy of Him.
Depth of commitment (v.38)
“Take up his cross.” It is the disciple’s own cross. What is it? It is the most feared thing; the things in our lives we most fear losing. It is that in our lives that is hindering us from our sacrificial service for Christ. Something or someone we love or fear. So, Jesus says that if we don’t take up our own cross and follow after Him, we are not worthy of Him. How committed are we to Him? How far are we willing to go in denying ourselves for His sake?
Follow after Jesus (v.38)
How do we, the disciple, follow after Jesus? By following His manner of life, going where He would go, speaking to those He would speak to, doing the will of the Father. “Eating with tax collectors and sinners” comes to mind. Taking the gospel of the kingdom to those who need it. It is a life of obedience to Christ in every area.
Outcome of “Life” (v.39)
The word “life” in this passage is used evidently in two senses. The meaning may be expressed thus: He that is anxious to save his “temporal” life, or his comfort and security here, shall lose “eternal” life. . . . He that is willing to risk or lose his comfort and “life” here for my sake, shall find “life” everlasting, or shall be saved. (Barnes.)
Jesus tell us that if we want to know Him, we must surrender everything to God. He instructs us to follow His giving example of total self-sacrifice in devotion to God’s will. He teaches us to deny the self (cf. Matthew 16:24-26) because our carnal minds are driven by selfishness, which always forces us off the right path. Finally, He advises us to sacrifice entirely the lower, physical, temporal life for the higher, spiritual, eternal life. For if we do not completely and wholeheartedly surrender the lower for the higher, we will lose both.
“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ,” Philippians 3:7, 8.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.