“Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “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. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14.25-27
In English class, we are taught about a type of literature that uses extreme elements of exaggeration and it’s called hyperbole. It’s not intended to be taken literally or even sometimes seriously. It tends to be a figurative and description language.
When I read this short teaching of Jesus, at first I am offended. Is he really telling us to hate our family? Our father, mother, wife, children, brothers and sisters and even our own life? Could Jesus really mean that in order to love him we just hate others?
Some would read this and take it literally. They would scoff, be aghast, or reject his teachings all together because he said we must hate each other including ourselves in order to follow him. But why would Jesus, who spoke about the greatest commandment — loving God and loving neighbor (Matthew 22, Deuteronomy 6, Leviticus 19) now flip flop tell us to hate essentially everyone? Because it’s hyperbole.
Jesus is using a type of literature, which he being God invented to describe the amount and passion for which we must follow him. He never intended for us to hate each other. That’s completely opposite and diametrically opposed to what he has been teaching and preaching his entire career.
Jesus is emphasizing the level to which we must be willing to love, follow and obey him. Would we love him enough to give up our family? Would we follow him even if it meant disowning, hating or rejecting those who are closest to us? In order to be his disciple, we must love Jesus more than we love everyone and everything else. He must be our everything, our all and all.
If we are going to follow Jesus, he tells us that we must “carry our cross” otherwise we cannot be his disciple. In other words, we must be willing to die for the sake of the Gospel.
Now I am very well insulated in my life and activity in this world. I don’t take a lot of risks, perhaps a few weeks working with the homeless, or the occasional trip to Africa or Costa Rica, but I am well protected. But my heart is heavy for all those suffering in Afghanistan, especially the women, children and Christians. They will be persecuted the most. Those believers, who are not unlike me in their devotion, will have to make a choice. Will they follow Jesus unswervingly? Or, will they cave to the demands of the Taliban terrorists who are promoting radical Islam and lapping up evil like a dog on a hot summer day?
The cost of being Jesus’ disciple in America is not always high, but in Afghanistan it the worth of a life.
All of us should be willing to die for our faith. To reject our family and friends if it means not following Christ. However, Jesus doesn’t intend for this to happen. But he is asking us to make sacrifices for the sake of Gospel.
Will you join me in taking up your cross and following Christ? Will you pray for Christians and those persons who are being persecuted for their faith, their race or their social class?
Let’s ask Jesus to help all of those who are in desperate need that he might be close, that God might draw near.
”O dear Lord, come Lord Jesus, our world is a wreck. Your design was perverted by sin. Your intention to know and love us is beautiful and perfect. Help us walk with you. Help us know the power of your word and the truth of your love. Even when we turn away, your love is faithful. Come now and rescue the hurting and those who suffer for your names sake. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen