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Is Jesus Worth It? (Matthew 10:34-42)


This text for the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost in Year A of the Three-Year Lectionary raises this question:  Is Jesus worth it?

We are going to look at this question two ways:

  1. How does the value of Jesus compare with the love, affection, and unity of our families?
  2. What is the value of Jesus in the atonement for our sins? Is Jesus worth it to God as a sacrifice for our salvation?

A Difficult and Surprising Text

This is a difficult and surprising text. When we first hear Jesus saying this, He sounds harsh. He sounds like He is contradicting what we thought we could expect from him.

During Advent and Christmas, we hear Scripture texts saying that with the coming of Jesus is the coming of peace on earth, goodwill toward men. We hear the prophets call him the Prince of Peace.

But here, in verse 34, He plainly says He did not come to bring peace, but a sword. A sword is a weapon of war, not a sign of peace. In war, we fight our enemies. Who are our enemies in this saying of Jesus? Bad enough to be in any war. Bad enough to have any enemies. So much worse to hear Jesus say, “a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.”

Our Most Valuable Relationships

Jesus touches our most valuable relationships in these words. He says in verses 35 and 36:

I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.

He touches father and son, mother and daughter, daughter-in-law and mother-in-law, and everyone in your household.

In the Fourth Commandment, in Exodus 20:12, God commands:

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.

How, then, can Jesus say He came to set sons against their fathers.


Remember Abraham, the father of faith. In Genesis 12:1 we read:

Now the LORD had said to Abram:

“Get out of your country,
From your family
And from your father’s house,
To a land that I will show you.”

Here again, God seems to be contradicting his own Fourth Commandment. He commands Abraham to honor his father and mother, and then He commands Abraham to leave his father, leave his family, get out of their country, and go on a one-way journey to another land.

So, what gives? Literally, something does give. The Fourth Commandment gives to the First Commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me,” Genesis 20:3.

The trouble was, Abrahams’s father worshiped false gods. The love of father and mother, as great as it should be, cannot be greater than the love of God. Nothing is to be put above or before God.

It was a grievous commandment for Abraham to follow. Leaving his father was a miserable thing to do. Yet God commanded it.


Perhaps the relationship that Jesus mentions about daughter-in-law and mother-in-law is the weakest of them. And yet, look how strong it should be. We see an outstanding illustration of this in Ruth.

In the book of Ruth we see an Israelite woman named Naomi. She had a husband and two sons. Because of famine in Israel, they went to Moab. There her sons married Moabite women, and one of them was Ruth. Naomi’s husband died. Both of her sons died. That left just Naomi and her two Moabite daughters-in-law. Naomi heard the Lord had visited Israel and given it bread. So she got up to leave Moab and return to her own country. She told her daughters-in-law to return to their own mothers and stay in Moab where they would have a chance for new husbands. But Ruth said, in chapter 1, verse 16:

Entreat me not to leave you,
Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.

This is the true and godly affection between a daughter-in-law and a mother-in-law. Look how much Ruth was giving up and how much she was risking to hold to her mother-in-law Naomi.

Take note. Naomi mentioned Ruth’s mother. She told Ruth to return to her mother. This would be in accord with the Fourth Commandment, for Ruth to honor her mother, that her days would be long in the land of Moab. But she, like Abraham, leaves her mother’s house and leaves her own land and goes instead to another land.

The last line in verse 16 explains why. Ruth said, “And your God [shall be] my God.” Her bond to Naomi was based on her bond to God. The First Commandment told Ruth to put nothing before God, not even her own mother or her own country or her prospects of a Moabite husband. She is making the same one-way journey that Abraham made.

Journeying to Christ

Abraham was journeying to Christ, our true God.

Ruth was journeying to Christ, our true God.

When Ruth lived in Israel, she married Boaz. With Boaz she had children, and her great grandson is David, the King. Jesus as the Son of David sits on David’s throne forever. During Advent, we hear Luke 2:4:

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.

Ruth stands as one of the mothers leading to Jesus.

In the Gospel, God calls us to journey to Christ with Abraham and Ruth. It is a one-way journey. There is no looking back. In verse 38 of our text, Jesus says, “He who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” Those who were crucified were compelled to carry a crossbeam from the hall of condemnation to the hill of crucifixion. As they were carrying their crossbeams, they were on a one-way journey. They would not be coming back.

We, as guilty and condemned sinners, journey from the place of condemnation to Christ’s hill of crucifixion by Baptism and faith.

Harsh, but No More Than Jesus Himself Did

So Jesus is calling us the way God called Abraham. Jesus is calling us the way God called Ruth. If our families are not in faith with Christ, we must get up, leave, and journey to Christ. It is a one-way journey. There is no turning back. And it is a cross. It is death to self and being alive to God.

As harsh as this might seem, let us remember that Jesus himself had to suffer these same things.

Jesus carried his crossbeam to Golgotha, and it was a one-way journey.

Remember also in Mark 3, Jesus’ family was against him and tried to seize him by force because they thought he was crazy.

20 Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. 21 And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.” [ESV]

Why Is Jesus Worth It?

Jesus is worth it for two reasons:

First, Jesus is God.

Before creation; before the sun, moon, and stars; before heaven and earth existed; the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit lived. From eternity, before creation, the Son of God lived and was divine. Then, for our salvation, and in the fulness of time, the Son of God came down from heaven, was incarnate by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and was made man. He was made man under the Law of God to redeem us who are human and under the Law

As Paul says in Colossian 2:9, “in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” So Jesus is worth it to us for the same reason that God was worth it to Abraham and Ruth, because of the First Commandment and because Jesus is God.

Second, Jesus is worth enough to God to pay our redemption price for our sins. Peter says in 1 Peter 1:18-19:

You were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 

As a man, Jesus “was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15) Jesus is the only man who has succeed in living a life without blemish, a sinless life without a blot. Therefore, he has righteousness, and He is the only man who does. And just as He takes our sin onto himself to pay the Law’s penalty of death for our sin, so He also gives his righteousness to us that we may stand in his righteousness before God. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

True Enemy and True Peace

As bad as it would be to have enemies in our own families, there is something worse. Remember, without Christ, we are enemies of God. Paul describes this in Romans 8:6-7:

For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

There is no peace with God without Christ saving us from our sins. Christ did come to bring peace, that is, peace with God. Before, we were enemies of God, as Paul says in Romans 5:10:

For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.


Christ is worth it because his blood in precious. By his precious blood we have been redeemed from our warfare against God in our sin, reconciled to God, and we enjoy peace with God.