Luke 14:26

If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

This verse has been attacked by unbelievers who suggest it to be a contradiction.  If we are honest, it is a bit difficult to reconcile the teachings of Jesus and the Bible in general.  We are told in Scripture to “love thy neighbor as thyself”, to “do good to them that despitefully use you”, that “God is love”, and that “God so loved the world…”.  Yet here Jesus says we are to “hate”.  How can this be?  

While the wording in this passage is difficult, the interpretation is not.  There are no contradictions in Scripture, and when you think you have stumbled across a contradiction, the problem is not the Bible, but your understanding of it.  In the context of this passage, it would be an excellent idea to read the entire fourteenth chapter of Luke to get the context.  Jesus had been invited to yet another pharisee’s home on the Sabbath day.  There was a sick man brought to Him, and the pharisees watched to see what Jesus would do.  Jesus was not afraid of these men, nor their evil intentions, so He healed the sick man.  

The context of our verse today comes at the end of the chapter after Jesus leaves the house and then addresses the crowd of followers.  Jesus, having just had a confrontation with the pharisees turns to the crowd and makes the declaration in our verse.  What then did Jesus mean when He said we cannot be His follower if we do not hate our family?  Let it be clear, He was not suggesting that we have hatred toward our loved ones, but rather that our love for Him be so strong, that by comparison, our love for others resembles hate.  

Now, let us go a bit deeper with this thought…if you are a believer and you have family members who are not, then you know the challenge of proclaiming your faith in front of them, yet you also understand the command of God to bear witness of your salvation to them…whatever are you to do?  Who do you love more?  Jesus, who died for you, or your family who will die and go to hell with Him?  You love them, but if you talk about your faith with them, they will become angry and mock you, and shut you down.  So often in these cases we allow our fear of our family’s reactions to overpower our love and duty to the gospel.  

In short, Jesus is teaching that to be His disciple you cannot love anyone, or anything more than you love Him.  Imagine if He would have been afraid of what the pharisees would have thought of Him healing the man on the Sabbath day?  His fear would have left a sick man in his pitiful condition, and it would have brought shame to Jesus’ ministry and purpose.  Instead of concerning Himself with what these men thought of Him, Jesus obeyed the will of His Father and healed the sick man.  Do not let fear of what others think of you keep you from fulfilling your duty as a believer.  

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