Hate Family to be Jesus’ Disciple



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  • Hate Family to be Jesus’ Disciple

    Discipleship is fundamentally a call to conform to and emulate the life of Jesus as first priority over everything and everyone. In the gospel of Luke, the Lord mentions father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, and even one's own life as a willful sacrifice.

    "If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters--yes, even their own life--such a person cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:26
    At face value, we might interpret this passage to say we must literally hate (viciously despise or wish harm to) the members of our family, but we know in biblical context, that is not the meaning. The meaning of the Lord's words insists that we must esteem Him above any other relationship on earth and we must love Him more than our own lives. In fact, we must love Him so much that our earthly loves pale in comparison, even to the point of seeming like hate. Such a love doesn't come alone by sheer will power, but has to be inspired by the indwelling of the Spirit within.

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ID:	1667During this time, Jesus was speaking to large crowds of people (Luke 14:25). Perhaps many of these followers considered themselves disciples of this popular teacher. Far too often, the call to discipleship attracts people who are only interested in receiving the personal benefits contained in the biblical narrative. These culling words of Christ expose the deepest motivations in our hearts, and they must have created quite a stir among his followers. Interestingly, Jesus made other controversial statements without apology, as we read in the book of John, that a follower must be willing to 'eat his body and drink his blood' (John 6:53-59). It is as though He was deliberately trying to drive people away, to reveal the motives of those self-seeking, to immediately prune them out of the fellowship. Jesus knew the only souls who would remain are those seeking God in truth for the right reason, those connected to the life giving vine. Seeing the growing number of hearers which now surrounded Him, Jesus used this language to startle them, and impress upon them the difference between a mere interest in Him and a true inward transformation that only comes from God.

    A person with spiritual ears will receive the things of God, even at the comprehension of total loss. For they have been transformed inside, where nothing of this life binds them with passion. The fullness of Christ becomes paramount, to be conformed into His likeness, to share in His sufferings, to serve with the faithful and be made ready for the day of Reckoning. This is the point of the passage. In order to be a disciple, we must be willing to give up everything for Jesus. All passions, loves and ambitions, this is the cost of being in Him. This is not easy choice, and of course it is of the wholesome nature that we should love our family members and want our family members to love and follow God.

    As we read along, as an effort to help clarify the teaching in Luke 14:26, Jesus placing an emphasis with a metaphor, about a man who builds a house without counting the cost and finds that he cannot follow through with what he set out to do. He leaves the house unfinished because he cannot pay what is required. Jesus is showing us the explanation to His difficult statement—that we must count the cost of discipleship. No earthly affection must ever come into competition with the love of God.

    "Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:27-33).

    Sit down and count the cost; consider it will cost the mortifying of the sin nature, even the most beloved of earthly passions. The stern, uncompromising picture of what ought to be actual purpose of a genuine follower was painted especially with a view of removing those with the misguided incentives, purposeless enthusiasts following Jesus with a selfish motivation. The way of the cross, which he was about to tread, was not a path for light-hearted triflers.

    Looking at another passage that equally draws on the parallel of family, Matthew 19:29 reads, "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life." The promise is, God has required total commitment from His followers, to the point of heart-breaking separation from any natural blood family members who do not receive him, but in this life and in heaven we will have a hundred times what we lost—an entire family under the blood of Christ. Even the material things that we had forsaken in order to follow Him will be given back to us in a form a hundred times better than what we gave up (ref. Job, Joseph, or Isaiah). This does not mean we shall be compensated with quality material gains as a reimbursement for sacrifice, the blessings may come in different forms, and often do. To be disciple, we are required to choose Jesus over others and the things this world, even if others include family rejecting Christ as a result.

    Many commentators will stress that the word 'hating' should be interpreted as 'loving less.' In support of this interpretation, they quote a passage in Matthew where Jesus makes a similar point. The main difference is that He speaks of 'loving family less' than Him rather than 'hating' family members.

    "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me." Matthew 10:37
    This position is not very convincing nor the result from Inductive study. From an exegetical standpoint, we cannot compare directly Luke 14:26 and Matthew 10:37 because these two passages are not synoptic parallels. The context is different and the period of time in the Lord's teaching is different. Matthew 10:37 was addressed to the twelve apostles when they were being sent out. This happened in the middle of Jesus' ministry. Luke 14:26 came from the last part of Jesus' ministry and it was addressed to the multitudes, not just to the apostles. A far better exegetical method is to see how the Lord Jesus uses the word 'hate' elsewhere in His personal teaching.

    All these passages use the word "hate" which means 'hate,' not 'love less':

    • Matthew 5:43-44; 6:24; 10:22; 24:9-10.
    • Mark 13:13.
    • Luke 1:71; 6:22; 6:27; 16:13; 19:14; 21:17.
    • John 3:20; 7:7; 12:25; 15:18-19; 15:23-25; 17:14.

    What Jesus was pointing at in Luke 14:26, he was saying, 'I want you to offer up as a sacrifice to Me what is precious to you, even yourself, in the same way that Abraham offered up Isaac.' So we are to hate, not in the sense of any emotion, but in the sense of offering up to God what we value. We are to hate ourselves in the sense of offering up ourselves to God as a living sacrifice. Here you recognize the writing of Paul in Romans 12:1. "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God."

    A final Scripture to punctuate from this outline reads, "Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life" (John 12:25). The sense of this passage is that whoever is so in love with this temporal life, as to be anxiously careful of preserving it, and takes all precautions to secure it, save it and protect it rather than to expose it to any danger of loss for Christ's sake, chooses to deny the life of Christ. The person that hates their life in this world: on the other hand, whoever seems not to place a great emphasis on it as not attempt to save it, they shall keep it unto life eternal. Such a one shall be preserved in his or her temporal life, in a remarkable manner, until they have done the will and work of God.

  • #2
    So how do I apply this well known teaching--practically? *A quote from a missionary to Turkey comes to my mind: "In the West it is easy to talk about dying to the world or self. But ultimately it is all metaphorical rhetoric until you have*a chance to stand at the grave site of a true martyr or try to comfort his widow and children.* All of a sudden the New Testament takes on full color and you realize that facing death is incredibly liberating." *I feel sometimes I keep repeating these teachings to myself like a well-trained parrot but end up living for myself anyway, everyday. I pray the Lord will give me a double portion of the Holy Spirit to --really--live in the Spirit and having my flesh decrease, for His power to take me out of my comfort zone for the sake of others, for His name´s sake, and I thank Him for He renews his mercies every morning towards us, so there is always hope when we feel we fail in His eyes.


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