What is the Sword?

February 04, 2009

“Don’t think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” – Matthew 10:34

The book The Jesus I Never Knew begins with these words. “I first got acquainted with Jesus when I was a child, singing “Jesus Loves Me” in Sunday School. I recall the peaceful image of Jesus that I grew up with, someone kind and reassuring with no sharp edges at all, a Mr. Rogers before the age of children’s television.” Indeed, if that is your image of Jesus, you probably have a tough time reconciling it with His statement that He “didn’t come to bring peace, but a sword.”

Relax. Know that throughout the New Testament the word “sword” is used to describe the word of God, not a military weapon. Ephesians tells us of “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” And again in Hebrews, the word of God teaches us about itself: “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

The image of the sword is a powerful way to explain how the word of God pierces our hearts, exposing us for who we are. The word is so powerful that it exposes our real desires, our real thoughts, our sinfulness. Now that is the power of the word of God. It is even sharper than a two-edged sword, for it doesn’t just expose our sins, but like a scalpel in the hands of the Great Physician, it shows us the way of ultimate healing and salvation from sin. That may not always bring us peace with our fellow man, but it sure brings peace with God and peace within.