“And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” – Luke 14:25-26
These are very harsh and uncomfortable words. It’s hard to wrap our minds around the concept of a God that is love itself, saying if we don’t hate our own family then we are not worthy to be called His disciple. Often times when we come across unpleasant passages like this, most of us tend to just overlook it, ignore it, or cringe and turn elsewhere. Yet Jesus Himself spoke these words, and we know by scripture that He didn’t speak anything unless God told Him too (John 5:30). Therefor, their must be an important message here, warranting further investigation that we might grasp it’s full meaning.
So why did Jesus say this? To find out we need to take it back to the Greek and examine what the original word translated to “hate” here actually meant in it’s entirety. The word in question in the original text was “miséō“, this word was in fact used in the context of hatred towards someone, even to the point of persecution, but it also meant to love someone less then an other. Therefor, when taken in light of the surrounding scriptures we see that Jesus was actually saying, if you do not “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” first and love all others second, as explained in Matthew 22:37-39 as being the first and greatest commandment, then you are not worthy of Him. Why, well because you have broken the first and greatest commandment of course, and Jesus said that if you really love Him you will keep his commandments.
It also means that when we put Him first it may, at times cause conflict with others, even those of our own household. Yet we must be willing to count Him worthy of any cost, seeking to please God at all times and in all things, rather then pleasing man, woman, child, or self.
This point is further expanded upon as the passage continues. Jesus wanted to make it abundantly clear that following Him would not be easy, that all will come against you at one point or an other, and that you must be willing to suffer loss and heartache for the sake of the one you love the most. After all, it’s only expected when you claim to be in love that you would put the one you love first, even if others in your life don’t like it.
We must stop, and counting the cost, determine to put God (and obedience to Him) first in our lives. No matter who it offends, no matter what it cost us, no laying down, no turning back, no matter what, no quitting, no compromise. Less our actions serve to mock, not only ourselves but the God we claim to serve. Let us determine to set aside all idols and weights that so easily beset us (be they of flesh, of paper, of stone, of metal, or of glass), pick up our cross, and follow Him. Understand that we cannot carry the cross, weighty and cumbersome as it is, if we are holding all these other things closest to our heart. Our hands will already be full.
“Lift Your Empty Hands to Me”
One by one he took them from me,
All the things I valued most,
Until I was empty-handed;
Every glittering toy was lost.
And I walked earth’s highway grieving,
In my rags and poverty,
Till I heard His voice inviting,
“Lift your empty hands to me.”
So I turned my hands toward heaven,
And He filled them with a store
Of His own transcendent riches,
Till they could contain no more,
Then at last I comprehended,
With my stupored mind and dull,
That God could not pour His riches
Into hands already full.
– Author unknown
“And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” – Luke 14:25-33