Hate Your Family?
To be My disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be My disciple (v.26).
I was invited to be a guest on a radio show last year to take part in a discussion with someone who called herself an ex-Christian. Rebekah had been brought up as a Christian, had attended Bible colleges and been on mission trips. But after growing doubts and a series of life events, she had given up on her faith. Today she is an atheist.
“How did Jesus disappoint you?” I asked Rebekah. Today’s verse was one reason she gave for questioning Jesus’ worthiness as a holy man. On a surface reading, why wouldn’t she? What kind of holy man would tell people to hate their parents, siblings, spouse . . . even their own children?
But this same Man taught love for God, neighbors and even enemies (Matthew 5:44). He loved children (Mark 10:13), and as He was dying made sure His mother would be cared for (John 19:26). If He was a man of hate, He wasn’t very good at it.
Jesus’ talk about “hating” one’s family should be understood in the context of comparison—no one is to compete with our love and devotion for Jesus. The meaning of the word hate in the original language was “to love less.”
Large crowds were following Jesus at this time (Luke 14:25). But Jesus wasn’t after numbers. He sought radically committed disciples who would give Him complete allegiance. He was heading to a Roman cross and warned that His disciples would face trouble. To persevere, they needed to count the cost of following Him (vv.27-33).
Christians are people who have given ownership of their lives to Jesus above all others—even family. The question for both atheist and believer is whether this radical demand was warranted. The early Christians thought so and brought change “all over the world” by following Him (Acts 17:6).
Read Romans 6:1 to see how radical allegiance to Jesus and His suffering leads us to experience His resurrection life too.
do you consult Jesus in your decision-making? What does it mean for you to love Jesus above all others?