“Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:51-53)
Would you believe that this is Jesus talking? The Prince of Peace, the Lamb of God, the one who explicitly told his disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you” (John 14:27).
So what gives? Did Jesus come to bring peace or not? According to this passage in Luke, he didn’t. But according to passages like John 14:27, he did. So what’s the deal?
The deal is that Jesus DID come to bring peace, but NOT peace on earth (as we might think of it). He came to bring peace to people all over the world – but not the world at large. That’s why there are still wars going on at this very moment. Jesus didn’t come to end all war. He came to end the war between our hearts and our Father who created us. He came to wash away our sin (which separates us from God) and destroy the works of Satan (who blinds us from seeing the glory of God).
The peace that Jesus gives is an internal peace. It’s a peace that starts inside us, as the walls between us and our heavenly Father get knocked to the ground. This doesn’t mean that all our problems go away and everything is calm from here to eternity. It simply means that we can be at peace with God no matter what’s going on around us. Like when Jesus is sleeping on a cushion in the back of a boat that’s being violently tossed in the sea (see Mark 4:35-41). The waves are crashing in and the disciples are afraid they’re going to die. But Jesus is in control. He gets up, rebukes the wind and says to the sea, “Peace! Be Still!”
This is the same wave-stilling, storm-ending peace that Jesus brings to our hearts. But it’s not a peace he gives to everyone. Remember, he came to bring “division.” He came to separate people in their own families. This isn’t always easy to hear, but it’s the truth. Jesus is not interested in “smoothing things over” or pretending that every person is on the same page. There are some who will take up their cross and follow him and there are some who won’t. There are some who will taste and see that the Lord is good and there are some who won’t.
This is what Jesus means when he says that he came to bring division. He knows that people will be divided on where they stand with him. Some will love him and others will hate him. That’s just the way it is.
But here’s the good news: The peace of Jesus is available to every person on this planet. God has made a way for us to be at peace with him forever. He sent his Son (the Prince of Peace) to rescue us from our sins and deliver us from evil. If we repent and believe in him, we will have eternal life with the God of peace himself.
This is why we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. May his peace be upon you this season.