25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple. 27 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:25-27 (NIV)
Wow! These are strong words coming from Jesus. But before we throw them out, we need to consider the verses that come before this section. These tell about the parable of the great banquet in which the first guests who were invited gave so many excuses for not coming to the banquet.
I believe Jesus is saying that when we allow our families to come between us and our relationship with him we are loving them at Jesus expense. His use of the word “hate” seems to be a form of comparison to the love we have for Jesus. Otherwise, this passage flies in the face of “Honor your father and mother” in the Ten Commandments. When so many of Jesus’ teachings focus on love, we have no choice but to see this as a figure of speech.
What comes to mind when I think of these passages are new converts from Islam, Jewish, and other faiths who follow Jesus in spite of becoming disowned by their own families. I believe they understand best what Jesus is saying. They had to be willing to turn their backs on their families and walk away to be able to follow Jesus. That doesn’t mean they truly hate them. In reality, their hearts grieve and break for their families and they continue to pray that they will come to know and love Jesus.
Jesus isn’t looking for fair weather disciples. He wants followers who are willing to live in new and different ways as they follow his leading. He wants people who will put their very lives in danger if necessary to follow him.
What have you given up to follow Jesus? Has your relationship with Christ cost you any friends? Or have you allowed peer pressure or pressure from family members to keep you from developing an intimate relationship with Jesus?
Lord Jesus, I love you. Help me to recognize the things that I have allowed to come between you and me and help me to turn my back on them and walk away.
Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green
Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.