"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. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
Luke 14:26,27 ESV
In this passage Jesus is speaking about loyalty and discipleship. This is another one of Jesus hard teachings. We have a hard time grappling with the language of this passage. Hate is such a strong word in our language. When we think of the word hate we think of absolute disdain for someone or something. When Jesus says if we don't hate our family members and our own life we cannot be one of His followers, it hits us at the core.
While this is a strong word, it is really being used as a comparative word. What Jesus is saying is that our love for Him must be stronger than our love for our family and our own life. Still this is rather a staggering thought, because we tend to think of our family and our own existence as first priority for us. Jesus wants us to get our priorities straight if we intend to be His disciples.
If we want to be His disciples, truly His disciples like the apostles were, we must be willing to follow as they did. He is looking for the same dedication one makes when they enter into marriage vows. It is the leave and cleave type of dedication that Jesus is looking for. He wants us to forsake all others for Him and Him alone. Jesus wants our relationship with Him to be exclusive.
When one enters into an exclusive relationship with Jesus it does have an effect on every other relationship in ones life. Hurt feelings and jealousy will occur, with those that are feeling left out with this new relationship growing as it should. Jesus wants His followers to know when they commit to Him their lives will change.
When Jesus speaks of bearing ones own cross, he is speaking about the necessity of going to ones death as a follower of Christ. Discipleship is not to be taken lightly, the costs are to be counted before moving forward with Christ. Following Christ comes at a price, a worthwhile cost.
© 2012 Leo J. Woodman