“Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth?”
It’s perfectly understandable if your first answer to that is, “Uh… yes?”
After all, isn’t Jesus referred to as the “Prince of Peace”?
Didn’t the angels sing at his birth: “Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth”?
Weren’t some of his last words on earth, “Peace be with you, my own peace I leave with you,” and don’t we exchange the Peace each Sunday, saying “The peace of the Lord be always with you.”?
It is true that Christ came to bring peace, peace between us and between us and God.
So why did Jesus answer his own question by saying, “No, I tell you [I have not come to bring peace], but rather division!”?
Part of the reason -- something I hope to more fully explore in Sunday’s sermon -- is something we polite Episcopalians don’t take very seriously, and that’s this: whenever and wherever we take our discipleship (being apprentices of Jesus) seriously, there will be conflict.
That conflict is not the end of the story, or even the biggest part of it. But it is part of the story.