In Luke 14:25-26 Jesus says:
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”
(Luke 14:26 ESV)
This verse came up a lot in my Hermeneutics class last semester, as interpreting this verse requires some background. First the obvious – Jesus is not actually calling all his disciples to actually hate parents, wives, children, etc. Why? Well for one thing, this would conflict with other Biblical teachings to love each other and the Bible does not contradict itself. When we do hit an apparent “contradiction” we need to dig deeper. Sadly, rumor has it that there have been people thru the years who have actually literally interpreted this verse and started hating on their loved ones.
Next, we need to look into what this means in the context of when it was written and what other parallel passages can tell us – check out Matthew’s account and we see a different wording that helps us:
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
(Matthew 10:37 ESV)
“Hates” in this case is a really a cultural way of saying “loving less.” Jesus’ point? Disciples love Jesus more than anything else. That doesn’t mean we hate our families, we love them and care for them as the Bible instructs us elsewhere, but we love because God loves us and fills us with his love and we in turn love others with the love of God.
Overall in this passage (Luke 14:25-33) Jesus is saying the cost of following him (Discipleship) is very high. This is not like much of the American Christianity we see in popular books and on TV – accept Jesus into your heart and your life will be filled with puppies and unicorns. It is a radical life where our lives are not our own, and we understand that our goal and purpose to bring glory to God with our lives. We are not about ourselves – we are first all about God. This is not a joyless existence, for therein lies our greatest joy and identity. This theme Jesus repeats a few times in his teachings and reminds me of what he said in 9:23-25
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?
(Luke 9:23-25 ESV)
Here, have yourself a little Piper sermon jam to wrap things up and brighten your Saturday AM: