by Tim LaFleur
In the last post, I shared that in the gospel of Luke (14:25-33), Jesus gives great insight into why it is so difficult to follow Him. Notice what Jesus told the crowds that were following Him.
“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 ESV)
This, no doubt, is one of the most difficult demands made of a believer in all of scripture. The Lord Jesus says that if we are going to follow after Him, we must “hate” those we love most—father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even our own life. What makes this so difficult is that this demand seems to contradict everything that Jesus taught about loving people with a sacrificial love. Consider these verses:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13: 34, 35 ESV)
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5: 43-45 ESV)
According to Jesus, we are to love everyone, even our enemies!
So, what does Jesus really mean when He says we are to “hate” those we ought to love most? If we are to answer that question, we must put into play a principle that goes something like this –“The best commentary on the Word of God is the Word of God!” Here Matthew’s gospel helps us:
“For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:35-37 ESV)
This passage helps to “shed more light” on what Jesus said in Luke. Jesus makes it clear that He will have no rival! He demands being “first place” in our affections and in our commitments. To be “worthy” of Him is to love Him supremely. To follow His is to surrender to Him unconditionally.
So, why do our relationships with people (especially those we are closest to) make it hard to follow Jesus? Simply put, Jesus will have “no rival” when it comes to our love for Him. He demands our absolute allegiance as well as our undying affection.
People make it hard to follow Jesus because we love them more that we love Him.
Next time, I will explore the one person in your life who makes it the most difficult to follow Jesus- You don’t want to miss it!
What are some other barriers that hinder our relationship with Christ?
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