If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.
The popularity of Jesus was exploding. Everybody wanted to be near Him. But He could see there were a lot of individuals who didn’t understand what it really meant to be His disciples. He knew that a lot of them were nothing more than fair-weather followers.
One day Jesus turned to the adoring masses and laid out the criteria for what it means to be His disciples. His words still ring true for us today.
These perhaps were among the most solemn and searching words that ever fell from the lips of Jesus Christ. And this is the only time He explained the severity of His terms for disciples.
He began, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26 NKJV).
A statement like that sounds shocking to us today. Why is Jesus asking us to hate members of our families and even our own lives?
In the light of the New Testament, Jesus was not demanding an unqualified hatred. After all, He would not command us to honor our fathers and mothers and then tell us to hate them. Nor would He command husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church and then tell them to hate their wives. And He wouldn’t tell His followers to love their enemies and then hate them.
Jesus essentially was saying, “Are you willing to be more than just a fair-weather friend?”
If you really want to be His disciple and live the Christian life to its fullest, then you must love Jesus more than anyone or anything else.
In what seems to be a paradoxical statement, there is very clear logic: by loving God more than anyone else, we develop a new love for others that we have never known.