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And the book tells us that Jacob simply liked one of his wives better than the other one. The text says that, ‘Jacob loved Rachel more than he loved Leah’. [7] That doesn’t mean that Jacob didn’t love Leah. But then in the very next verse it read, ‘And God looked down and saw that Rachel was loved and Leah was hated’. [8] In Hebrew that is simply a way of expressing the contrast, one wife was loved more than the other. [9] [10] [11]

Two Gospel Parallels

We see that same concept illustrated when we compare Mathew’s account of this incident with Luke’s account. Luke reads, ‘Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple!‘ Whereas in his Gospel, Matthew has Jesus saying, ‘He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.’ [12]

‘Thought for thought’ versus ‘word for word’ translations

The two Gospels cover a lot of the same ground. [13] And they give us a lot of the same teachings. But Luke tends to give us a more a literal word for word rendering of what Jesus said. Whereas Matthew tends to give us more of a thought for thought rendering of what Jesus said. It is kind of like the Living Bible. The Living Bible reads very differently then say the Revised Standard Bible that we have there in the Pew. And the reason is, The Living Bible is giving us a ‘thought for thought’ translation and the Revised Standard gives us a more ‘word for word’ translation.

Christ’s Point

But, to get back to the point, Christ’s point here is that we have to love Him more than anything else. [14] He overstates this for effect. ‘Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple! Jesus is saying here that at the deepest core of our being we have to love and honor our relationship with Him, above and beyond all other relationships in this world. It costs us quite a bit to be His Disciple. And He tells us that here.


We need to be careful when we interpret a text like this. Like most texts in the Bible, you can explain this to the point of explaining it away, which we don’t want to do. We don’t want to minimize the seriousness of what Jesus is saying to us here. It is true that when Jesus taught, he was fond of using ‘hyperbole’. Hyperbole is a rhetorical device. It is overstatement. It is ‘exaggeration for effect’. It is like when we tell our kids, “I’ve told you a million times to clean that room!” That is hyperbole, the ‘exaggeration for effect’. Not that it has any effect on my kids. But Jesus used to do that all the time. For example, when Jesus said, ‘If your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown