In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus says, “I have come…” He does not indicate an origin. He does not say from Bethlehem, Nazareth, or Capernaum. He simply says that he has come. His origin is not earthly. It is from another dimension that he enters into our earthly dimension. He has come from the Father.
He says that he has come to bring the sword. But we understand him as “Prince of Peace,” among other titles. Not only that, but the Greek word that we translate as sword could also be translated as “war.” How does the Prince of Peace bring war? What kind of crazy contradiction is going on here?
We must understand the difference between real peace and false peace. Real peace is when people come together. It is when differences are fully set aside and when people realize the real need for unity, even in diversity. It is when people come together for something greater. It is when they come together in truth. False peace is when fighting ceases without any resolution of the sources of the conflict. It is not when people come together in truth. It is when compromises are made that keep people from uniting in truth. This false peace is only temporary.
Jesus did not come to bring a false peace. He brings peace to those disciples who have united in truth. But the war continues. Persecutions will follow, especially in the 250 years from Nero to Constantine. In different parts of the world and in different ways, they continue today. Yet, as Christians, we can find peace during this persecution. We find the real peace of Jesus Christ.
Many of us have undergone painful medical treatments or surgeries which ultimately led to an improvement in health. In surgery, a scalpel often cuts away the problem tissue and allows the body to heal afterwards. It is an initial pain that brings later healing. Often, it can be called a purification of sorts.
This purification….this cutting away of diseased or otherwise problem tissue…is the sword that Jesus brings. It leads to later healing. It brings a later and broader real peace.
Jesus promises us life. Not a comfortable life in this world. No, he promises eternal life in the next for those that choose to follow him in this life.