On the face of it this is a pretty harsh saying: “‘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.'” (Luke 14:26)
Hard to believe these words coming from Jesus’ own lips. Was he serious? Hate? Surely this is not the same guy who talked about love and turning the other cheek etc.? Yes – the very same. This might be one of those passages some people would like to quickly scoot past, dismissing as soon as possible.
What was Jesus really saying? He was saying that if you want to be his disciple he must be number one – with no close second. That genuinely is a hard saying because it means we have to examine the affections of our heart very closely. We may love our father, child or spouse at a deep level but human love must not compete with our love and commitment to God.
Who is on a pedestal in our life? Do we cling so much to a particular relationship that we feel we could not live without it? Do we treasure our own life so much that we make God play second fiddle? In that case, Jesus is letting us know that we cannot be his disciples. Plain and simple. We may pay lip service to serving him but he is not fooled.
Even if this passage of scripture is hard I’d rather have it that way though. Why not know up front what the rules are? Jesus never made a pretense that serving him would be easy. Better, for the long haul to be forewarned.