Day 10: April 4
Sometimes Jesus would say something that was hard to hear — something that would upset some people or at the very least cause them to rethink something they had originally thought. And a lot of times, Jesus would save those heart-piercing statements for his closest friends, his disciples.
But in Chapter 14, we read where Jesus said something to a large crowd of people that surely caused everyone to get quiet and maybe ask, Did I hear him correctly? Here’s what he said in verses 26 and 27. And remember, he’s speaking to a lot of people — people who had made the choice to give up part of their day to be around him.
“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.”
Wait, what? I’ve got to hate my family to be a Jesus follower? Well, no. Of course not. It would be counter to the entire ethic of the New Testament to hate your enemies, much less your family members. So if Jesus wasn’t being literal here, what’s he talking about? And why did he use such strong words to get his point across?
It’s worth remembering the original setting where Jesus first said this. He knew that following him, showing loyalty to him, could come at a great cost for people. In the not-too-distant future, he would be seen as a criminal to some. If you were a known Jesus follower, your reputation and perhaps even your life might be in danger.
So this was Jesus’s way of asking: Are you absolutely sure you want to follow me? Because the amount of resolve it will take, the commitment it will take, the sacrifice it will take to be an all-in follower of me makes the loyalty you have to your family pale in comparison. Are you really in?
It can be hard to follow Jesus. It takes praying for strength and wisdom to follow Jesus. It’s hard to forgive someone who doesn’t deserve it, but we’re better at life when we do. It’s hard to love someone who isn’t very lovable, but it makes our lives better when we do. It’s hard to put the needs and well-being of others before our own.
Following Jesus can be hard and it comes at a cost, but we become better at life and those around us benefit when we do.
“Heavenly Father, give me wisdom as I look to follow Jesus. Amen.”
Before the next session, read Luke Chapters 15 and 16.