LUKE 14:25-30: “Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it — lest, after he has laid the 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’?” (NKJV)
OBSERVATION: This is one of the most difficult and challenging group of verses in the Bible! When I read these verses I am both convicted and confused. Who can truly be a disciple of Jesus Christ? Does Jesus really want us to hate our father, mother, wife, children, and family? What is the application of these verses for my life and for the life of the church? There are so many questions that arise.
One of the basic principles of Biblical interpretation that anyone can apply was aptly set forth by Martin Luther. He wisely said – “Let Scripture interpret Scripture.” In other words, if we come across a difficult verse, or group of verses in the Bible, we must weigh them against the whole counsel of Scripture to give light on their meaning. When we do this with these verses things become clearer, and what seems to be a contradiction in Jesus teaching comes into focus and the true meaning of what He is saying comes to light.
First, Jesus taught that we are to uphold all of God’s commandments. In fact, Jesus held up the fourth commandment in His teaching.
- “He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’” (Matthew 15:3-4 NKJV)
So, Jesus was not advocating dis-honoring or ”hating” our own family. Jesus was using an extreme exaggeration in making a most important point. This point comes into clarity in a parallel passage found in the Gospel of Matthew.
- “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. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.”. (Matthew 10:37-39 NKJV)
The verses become even more clear when we see that Jesus also added this clause into the list of those we must “hate” – “…yes, and his own life also…” The point that Jesus was making is that nothing or no one can take the place of God on the throne of our hearts if we are truly going to be His disciple. If our love for anyone or anything supersedes our love for God than we are not truly walking as a disciple of Jesus Christ. We have not counted the cost. We will not finish well.
The first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. The second is like it – but it is fully dependent upon the first. If the love for God and of God is not primary in our lives then we are still walking after the flesh. All the things that we desire to do and become will not be possible because we will be pulled by our old sinful nature away from the heart of God and toward the desires of the world, sin, and the devil. There is no middle ground in this call. It is the “Cross” that divides. If we do not embrace the Cross of Jesus Christ as our own, we are only fooling ourselves. We are not truly His disciple.
Yet, if we take up our cross (embracing His Cross in our lives), then we experience the wonderful power of forgiveness, cleansing, and the ongoing empowerment of the Holy Spirit who leads us from victory to victory through Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul puts it this way,
- “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.”. (Galatians 6:14-15 NKJV)
If we are not coming to the “Cross” of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are only deceiving ourselves. If we are not calling others to the “Cross” of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are only giving them false assurance. It is only through His “Cross” that we are saved, healed, and redeemed. Only as we die to our own self centered nature and arise to His new creation within are we able to love father, mother, wife, children, and family through the love of Christ. This is only possible through His “Cross”! He alone must be on the throne of our hearts.
Lord, this morning, help me to count the cost and surrender to You wholly and fully anew. I run to Your “Cross” for it is my victory over my sin, selfishness, and all the power of the enemy! I glory in the “Cross of Christ” alone!
In Jesus Name!