Scripture: 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. (Matthew 10:34-37, NKJV)

Observation: Jesus is spending some time in teaching/training His disciples, particularly in what it means to be one of His disciples.  The section for our consideration today is one of those that has come to be known as “The Hard Sayings of Jesus.”  Here it seems as if Jesus is telling His disciples to not love their family, although that is not the case.  The Andrews Study Bible provides this insights: “In this passage Jesus seems to be contradicting His teaching on nonviolence and loving enemies and family. Rather than contradicting Himself, He is making two points: First, He is saying that the gospel at times engenders conflict because of the deep differences and disagreements that arise by those who accept it and those who don’t. Second, family and its place in society are redefined in its popular social understanding. The blood family is no longer at the top of the hierarchy in the setting of the gospel. Acceptance of, and love for, Jesus must be primary. To be sure, the Scripture teaches the importance of the family bond; but not at the expense of following Jesus.” (1)

Application: Conflict is part of any human relationship.  What is sad is that sometimes conflict in the family exists due to our differences in religious beliefs and convictions; this is what Jesus speaks about.  It is not that He causes conflict in the home, but rather that accepting His teachings may set us in opposition to family members who either reject or have a different understanding of Jesus’ teachings.
     One of the most important lessons we can learn from this section, however, is that Jesus demands that He have first place in our lives.  In the Ten Commandments God had written: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3“You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:2-3, NKJV).  Anyone (or anything) who takes the first place in our lives becomes our god.  The first place is, or should be reserved for God!
     This does not mean we stop loving our family members.  Instead, by placing God first in our lives, our relationship with our family changes and our family takes on a more exalted place.  No longer are they simply blood relatives but also faith relatives.

A Prayer You May Say: Father, by accepting You to have first place in my life I am not relegating my family to last but rather giving You and them the place each rightly deserves.  Father, be first in our lives, always and forever.

(1) Andrews Study Bible Notes. 2010 (J. L. Dybdahl, Ed.). Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press.

Used by permission of Adventist Family Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.



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