Matthew 10:34–42: Jesus Divides the Earth
So far in Matthew 10, Jesus has instructed his disciples about their mission to reach the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt. 10:6) and warned them of the great dangers that they will face (Matt. 10:16–25). In the previous section, Jesus drew one surprising conclusion to inform their reaction to these dangers: “So have no fear of them” (Matt. 10:26). Now, Jesus draws another surprising conclusion: this mission will effectively divide the whole earth between those who receive Jesus, and those who reject Jesus. Therefore, Jesus defines the right side of history.
1. How do we make sense of the Prince of Peace telling us that he did not come to bring peace, but to cast a sword upon the earth (v. 34)? What is the nature of the sword that Jesus came to bring? Where does this sword divide the earth? Where have you experienced division because of following Christ? What do you know of church history and the persecuted church around the world, and their experience of this warfare?
2. What does Jesus say about our relationships with our families in comparison to our relationship with him (v. 37)? What does this tell us about how we should approach our day-to-day family relationships? What does Jesus mean when he speaks of people who are not “worthy” of him (vv. 37–38)? In what sense do we lose our life by finding it, and find our life by losing it for Jesus’ sake?
3. How does Jesus’ extraordinary grace and kindness show by the way he treats those who relate positively to him in the most minimal ways (vv. 40–42)? How does he reward those who show kindness to his people? How does even the smallest act of kindness to the least of his disciples receive Christ’s reward? What is Jesus telling us about the nature of siding with him and, therefore, against the world?
4. What happens when Christians are unprepared for persecution? Why do Christians still struggle when they experience persecution, as though they were unfamiliar with passages like this? What makes persecution so hard for us to endure? How does Jesus work to bolster our faith in him for the trials we will face? What part of this section most encourages you in the difficulties that you are facing?