Recently a Facebook friend asked me about Matthew 10:34-35. She said that she has read these Scriptures several times and needed a better understanding of it. Her specific question: “Is Christ speaking of Himself?”
Jesus is speaking: “For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.”
My answer: “Yes, He is, but more specifically, the message of the Gospel. The Gospel forces people to make a choice to accept the truth or resist it. There's no neutral ground. Jesus said, “Either you are for me or you are against me.” He explained: “Men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil, and they don't want the light to expose them, and reprove them” (Ref. John 3:19-21). So in this sense, those in a Christian family who reject the truth, become our enemies as far as the Gospel is concerned.”
Friend: “Okay, that makes sense. I have read that chapter a few times and started just skipping it after a while. Thank you.”
Foes in the Family
We expect the Gospel to bring peace, and harmony, but in reality, it often brings conflict and war. Families will be divided over the Gospel, and our greatest enemies can be our own family members. This is a true dichotomy. Paul wrote in Romans that Jesus came to bring peace between God and man: “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). He wrote to the Corinthians that God has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation (1Cor.5:18-20). These are pleasant words, peace and reconciliation! But for those who do not receive and believe it, the Gospel brings hostility.
The first century Jewish believers who accepted Jesus as Messiah were disinherited by their families, cut off, and considered dead. Paul referred to this in Hebrews reminding them how they were made to be a gazing stock and reproach, suffering afflictions, and having their worldly possessions confiscated, which they gladly endured for the sake of Christ (Heb.10: 32-34). In some Jewish families today, mock funerals are held for those who believe on Jesus.
This is why Jesus plainly stated: “If a man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower sits not down first, and counts the cost, whether he has sufficient to finish it? Lest perhaps after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him” (Luke 14:26-33).
Let me point out, the meaning of the word “hate” in this passage simply means to prefer something over another, as understood by “his own life also” which is the crux of what Jesus meant. In other words, if you intend to follow Jesus Christ, prepare yourself for pushback, even from people you love the most. Because if there spiritual eyes are closed, and their hearts are hardened against the truth of the Bible, they have the spirit of the world, and not the Spirit of God. No matter how much they may love you in the flesh, the nature of the world that is in them, which is the spirit of the god of this world, Satan, is in active rebellion against God. For the most part, these people are blind:
“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the God of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2Cor.4:3-4). The mind is the spiritual understanding, which has been blinded by the god of this world. The Bible speaks of those whose minds have been darkened by wickedness. Those in this arena are under the influence, opinions, ideals, and aspirations of the worldly system. This is why they don't get you—they can't get you until their eyes are opened, just as the scales fell from the Christian-hating Paul's spiritual eyes on the road to Damascus (Acts 1-19).
The Four People the World Does Not Know:
1. The Son of God: It is recorded in John that Jesus was “the Word of God made flesh, and dwelt amongst us. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not” (John 1:1-14).
This was the Creator Himself! The second member of the Godhead—the Word of God. Everything was made by Him, and they should have recognized Him as God and Creator, but they did not. And when He came to His own Jewish people, who had the Scriptures and prophecies that foretold His coming, “They received him not.”
Even His own natural brothers and sisters, Mary's other children, did not believe in Him until after His resurrection. They didn’t understand why if He was the Messiah, He did not go to Jerusalem, the great city where all important religious people were, to show Himself and perform His mighty miracles, and thereby popularize Himself. They, like others in Israel, looked for a Messiah who would come on the scene in a spectacular way and liberate them from their Roman oppressors. They taunted him: “If you are the Messiah, and do these miracles, go show yourself to the world.”
But Jesus replied that He would not be loved and acclaimed by the world, but rather hated by the world, because “I testify against it that its works are evil” (Ref. John 7:1-7). In many cases, they refused to know Him or recognize Him, because they did not want to come to the light, and expose their evil works.
2. The Holy Spirit: “Even the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it sees him not, neither knows him” (John 14:17). Those who have the spirit of the world do not understand the Spirit of God, which means they cannot receive the things of God, because they are spiritually discerned:
“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Ghost teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1Cor.2:12-14).
While Jesus was on the earth, He was the one to bring men to God, but when His earthly mission was accomplished, God sent in His place the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of Truth. But even as the world knew not and received not Jesus, they do not know nor receive the Spirit. And as they were hostile to Jesus, they are hostile to Him, because He too will reprove them of their evil. Jesus said, “And when He is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and you see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged” (John 16:8-1).
His presence will convict the world of sin, because they did not believe on the Son of God, but rejected Him. God is righteous before all men and judges righteously, because He gave men the way out of sin and its punishment when He put it on His Son. As far as Satan is concerned, his power to hold man in his sins was defeated by Jesus on the cross; he has already been judged; his doom is sealed, and all those who believe not on the Savior will be judged with him.
3. God the Father: In His final prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed: “O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee, but I have known thee, and these (disciples) have known that thou has sent me” (John 17:25). The world did not know the Son of God, the Creator; neither did they know the Spirit God, who came to convict them of their sin and rejection of Christ. Because they failed to recognize the Son of God, and because they cannot receive the Spirit of God, neither do they know the Father God.
Jesus told the Pharisees that it is written in the law that the testimony of two men is true. He said: “I am one that bears witness of myself, and the Father that sent me bears witness of me.” At His baptism, the Father had spoken out of heaven: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” (Matt.3:17). All the miracles Jesus performed, He did by the authority of the Father who sent Him. But the Pharisees rejected Him and countered, “Where is thy Father?” Jesus answered them: “You neither know me, nor my Father: if you had known me, you should have known my Father also” (John 8:19).
It is impossible to know God the Father without His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus unequivocally said: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes unto the Father but by me” (John 14:6).
4. The Child of God: “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not” (1John 3:1). The world knew not the Son of God; nor the Spirit of God who came to testify of Jesus, and without Him, they cannot know the Father God. Therefore, they do not know any of the children of God. They don’t know me.
We cannot expect the world to understand our life in Christ. They have no reference point of the born-again spirit. It is as foolish to them as it was to Nicodemus when Jesus told him that he must be born again (John 3:3-6). Paul said, “Your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col.3:3). This not only speaks of our safety, but of our separation. The new life in Christ is a hidden from the world. They don't know anything about it, so they don't know anything about you and me. Believers live in two worlds—the world system with its tribulations and persecutions (John 16:33, 2Tim.2:12), and the hidden life in Christ where we are nurtured by the life of the Spirit, so when we face the hostility of the world, we can stand strong.
Just as the world is hostile to the Son of God, and to His Spirit, it will be hostile to you and me. We live in a day when antichrist spirits are at work, and the very mention of Jesus Christ evokes vicious, vitriolic responses, and these are often vented at us. In fact, Jesus said that we should not be surprised by this: “Marvel not if the world hate you…. If the world hate you, you know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world will love his own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (1Jn.3:13, Jn.15:18-19).
And to be clear, He also said: “He that hates me hates my Father also” (vs.23).The great theologian Charles Spurgeon said: “It is the nature of the wicked to hate the righteous, even as the wolf rages against the sheep.”