This passage hurts. It takes everything we love about Jesus and turns it on it’s head. We hear the words coming out of Jesus’ mouth and we wonder…is this the same guy? What happened to the warm fuzzy Jesus we love? Jesus’ words cut here…they cut like the sword he says he is bringing. He cuts deep into our hearts and forces us to put our earthly connections last and our heavenly connection first.
I had a hard time figuring out where to go on this sermon. Here are some random thoughts.
- Jesus’ words cut and disturb our lives. He is pruning his trees in order for them to produce good fruit. We have to learn to let go in order to grow in Christ.
- Christ in this passage comes into our comfortable lives and disrupts it completely. He makes our lives uncomfortable and leaves us disturbed. We don’t like it when God does this because it means we have to change, it means we have to say goodbye to what we wrap ourselves up in and live a life “on the edge” (stated in Bishop Mary Ann Swenson’s sermon at General Conference 2000, thanks Beth Quick)
- “Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘ye were bought at a price,’ and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.” (Bonhoeffer, Dietrich, The Cost of Discipleship. Touchstone, New York, p. 45)
- Being cut by Jesus’ sword of truth gives you life altering moments. My high school Sunday School teacher went up to Gary, WV one winter (I cannot remember why). While he was up there he started to visit some of the people. He came upon a small house leveled by cinder blocks, with now insulation, only plywood walls. Upon entering the house he saw the three daughters of the owner sleeping on a double mattress on the floor. It was so cold that as they slept he could see their breath. That cut him. It cut him real deep. He left that house that day determined not to let those girls be cold any longer. He started a ministry called Operation Warm Up out of Charlotte, NC. The first trip he took back up there, he took five youth and a van. He passed out winter clothes to those people in the hollars. My last trip with him as a youth, there were about a hundred youth, countless minivans and two tracker trailer full of clothes. Being cut by Christ lead to deep opportunities to minister and change your life. During my senior year my Sunday School teacher gave up his six figure salary, his lake house and his Miata and moved up there to work for the people of Gary, WV for free. Christ can cut deep.
- The peace that Christ brings is not the peace we live with or implement. There are many times in our relationships where we ‘make the peace’ but it is not real peace. Someone sacrifices a little bit of themselves to make peace with the family but keeps the grudge for doing so. Christ’s peace is truth. Christ’s peace doesn’t mend a problem, it disrupts every aspect of life. Christ’s peace leads to more conflict and pain because it leads to a life more like Christ, something the world doesn’t understand.