Why did Jesus say He came to set a man against his father?
The passage about why Jesus said He came to set a man against his father says as follows,
Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. (NASB) Matthew 10:34
This may appear as a paradox for the Bible tells us that God is a God of Peace (Rom. 15:33) and yet there are times when it could appear that is not true.
God of Peace
For example, we know that after Jesus was born, a multitude of angels appeared to a group of shepherds that evening and praised God saying,
Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased. (NASB) Luke 2:13-15
In Matt 10:12-13 and Luke 10:6 Jesus tells His disciples to give a greeting of peace when they enter a house. In Romans, the Holy Spirit tells us to pursue peace with all men,
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. (NIV) Rom. 14:19
At a point of conflict in a marriage the Holy Spirit reminds the Corinthians that God has called them to be at peace (1Co 7:15). Psalms 34:14 and Romans 14:19 command us to pursue peace. Jesus desired that His disciples also pursue peace,
Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another. (NASB) Mark 9:50
Not the World’s Peace
Jesus desires that His disciples pursue peace in every situation, but says that it is not always possible to achieve peace.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (NIV) Romans 12:18
It is not always possible to have peace because men and women hate what Christians stand for, what Christ stood for, claimed to be and commanded. Ultimately, Jesus will bring peace,
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, (NIV) Romans 14:17
But until the Kingdom of God comes, real, true peace is not possible,
Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. (NASB) John 14:27
Why did He say this? The answer to our question is buried in this passage,
But we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, (NIV) 1 Corinthians 1:23
The peace Jesus came to offer was spiritual peace with God (Romans 5:1) and not worldly peace. When Christians talk about Jesus Christ as God, the majority of men and women consider it foolishness. To tell others they are sinners is often considered stupidity or insult. Our culture says we need a positive view of ourselves. But that is not Jesus’ message. He came for sinners. This is an offensive message to people. Jesus knew this. He knew His message would offend. So, when His disciples told their mothers, fathers, sisters or brothers they were sinners and consequently need to believe in, trust or depend on Jesus to have their sins forgiven, many would be angry. It would divide families, friends and neighbors. So Jesus knew His coming – His message would bring conflict. A Christian is not to seek peace at all costs when it comes to obeying God (Acts 4:19).
A.T. Robertson makes an important statement, “It is not namby-pamby sentimentalism that Christ preaches, it is not peace at any price. The Cross is Christ’s answer to the devil’s offer of compromise in world dominion. For Christ the kingdom of God is virile righteousness, not mere emotionalism. ” History tells us the early Christians died for believing Jesus was God and worshipping Him as God. Jesus came offering spiritual peace with God.