Over two millennia ago, a fully divine and fully human baby was born to a Jewish couple in the city of Bethlehem. Why was Jesus there? What was his mission? Why did he come? There are many reasons men give for the coming of the Messiah, but not all of them are equally legitimate. Therefore, for several days we are looking at Jesus’ statements and noticing why he said he did not come. We look at why he did not come in order that we might be understand why he did come.
Here is a quick review of where we have been thus far:
- Jesus did not come to counter-balance the Father. God was not in process, and Jesus was not the newer, kinder, gentler version of the Law-loving, angry, judgmental, Old Testament deity. One misunderstands theology if one sees the Father longing to condemn but being convinced not to by the intercession of the Son. They are not a married couple who sees things differently in regards to their children.
- Jesus did not come to bless the Jews alone. From the beginning of time, he had the world in mind. He came through the Jews, but he came through the Jews to bless the nations.
- Jesus did not come to lessen the ethical requirements of the Father. Right is right, wrong is wrong, and Jesus came to uphold and highlight the Moral Law of God
This brings us to our fourth reason why Jesus Christ did not come. Contrary to the teaching of many, Jesus did not come to provide earthly peace to all. Yes, he is the Prince of Peace. (Is. 9:6) Yes, he is the one who gives out-of-this-world peace. (Jn. 14:27) But he is also the Stone that cause men to stumble. (1 Pet. 2:8)
At his birth the angels came to shepherds to herald his coming. And within their proclamation a strange truth was uttered: Jesus came to bring peace, but he did so for those on whom God’s favor rested. (Lk. 2:14)
Eight days later upon his circumcision, this truth was again stated by the prophet Simeon. Jesus was the child who would cause some to fall and others to rise. He would be loved by many and despised by others. Jesus wold be a polarizing and dividing figure. (Lk. 2:29-35)
In his great sermon upon the mountain side, Jesus spoke of his community being light and salt. (Matt 5:13-16) What did he mean by this statement? Both of these elements are blessings; light provides insight and warmth while salt makes food safe and savory. However, both of these elements can also be disrupting and painful. Intense light in the eyes and salt in a wound can cause revulsion. Such would be the varied responses to Christ and his Church. Some would find the Gospel and the Church to be a sweet savor of life. Other would deem Christianity an odious stench to be avoided. (2 Cor. 2:15-16)
Many years later, in the midst of Jesus’ earthly ministry, he gathered his disciples to send them out two by two. Before doing so he told them what to expect:
Matt. 10:34-36 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law — a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.
Luke 12:51 Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.
Jesus disciples were to go out and spread the love, joy, and peace. They were to be winsome proclaimers of the Gospel. As a result of their ministry, neighborhoods, and families would be transformed and improved. However, at the same time and through the same men, neighborhoods would be divided on account of him. Even family units would be torn asunder by the preaching of the Prince of Peace. Jesus, his Gospel, and his disciples would be the cause of intense tension, conflict and division. Thus, Jesus’ men were to proclaim peace to all who would accept their Gospel. However, when opposed and persecuted, they were to shake the dust off their feet and take their peace with them. (Matt. 10:5-15)
This trend continues throughout the New Testament documents. When one studies the history of Jesus and his first century church, one sees they were ministers of peace that sparked much conflict. Though being gracious ambassadors; though having their words seasoned with salt; though expressing agape love to their enemies; despite all this, Apostles and individuals like Stephen and Timothy found themselves divisive ministers. When the Gospel was preached, people were healed, demons were exorcized, souls were redeemed, families were reunited, and neighborhoods were sweetened. But at the same time, when the Gospel was preached, discourse became fiery, jail cells became filled, streets were filled with rioters, and stones flew. The polarizing nature of Jesus continued in his gracious and ambitious Church.
When one studies church history, the same pattern can be seen. Wherever Christ’s Gospel and Spirit are found, Individuals, families, neighborhoods, and kingdoms are improved by the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. Peace is granted to many by the Prince of Peace. However, because Christ’s church is missional and ambitious, it is continually responsible for causing cultural and familial division and disunity. Christianity presents peace. Christianity promotes peace. But, due to the immutable character of God, the exclusive nature of the Gospel, and the exhaustive and expensive call of Christ, many find themselves made violently mad — even towards the kindest of Christians.
Therefore friends, do not try to be irritating. As a matter of fact, do the opposite. Strive to live at peace with all men. Be as winsome and charitable as possible. Seek peace while you preach the Prince of Peace, and rejoice when you find yourselves to be peacemakers blessed of the Father. But at the same time, do not be disillusioned by conflict. Strive as you may to change your city and make them love your being there, expect fierce opposition. For many do not like the good Law of God. Many do not like being labeled “Totally Deprave Sinners.” Many do not like the unrelenting condemnation of the Just Judge who promises eternal separation from him. Many do not like Jesus Christ being the exclusive way of salvation. Many do not like the concept of being slaves, servants, and sons who must obey and bear forth much fruit. Many do not want peace on these terms, and therefore they will continue to wage war against Christ, his Gospel, and his Church. Friends, enjoy your peace. Express your peace. Live at peace, but prepare for war.