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 mans foes shall be they of his own household. (Mt. 10:35, 36)
Our Lord is not speaking here about the direct purpose of His coming but rather about its almost inevitable result. He is saying that whenever people would follow Him, they could expect bitter opposition from their relatives and friends. In that sense, He did not come to bring peace but a sword (v. 34).
History has fulfilled the prophecy. Wherever people have turned to the living, loving Savior, they have met with abuse and hostility. They have been ridiculed, disinherited, thrown out of the home, fired from their jobs, and, in many cases, murdered.
The opposition is completely irrational. Here is a father whose son was a dope addict. But now that son has turned his back on drugs and is actively serving Christ. Youd think the father would be pleased. But no! Hes furious. He frankly admits he would rather have his son the way he was before.
Others are saved from alcoholism, from crime, from sex perversion, from the occult. They naively think that their relatives will not only be ecstatic but will want to become Christians themselves. It doesnt work that way. The coming of the Lord Jesus brings division into the family.
To forsake the religion of ones parents for Christ inflames the deepest passions. For instance, a family may be Jewish in name only, yet for a member of that family to become a Christian provokes violent emotional outbursts. The offender is called a renegade, a traitor, and is even associated with Hitler as an enemy of the Jews. Christian pleas and protests fall on deaf ears.
In many Muslim countries, conversion to Christ is punishable by death. The sentence is carried out not by the government but by the immediate family. The wife, for instance, may put ground glass in her husbands food.
And yet through the bold confession of new converts and through their patient, Christ-like endurance of hatred and persecution, others come to realize the emptiness of their own lives and their own religion, and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ in repentance and faith. And so the ranks grow through opposition, and thrive through persecution.