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Summary: Jesus reminds us of the true cost of discipleship by calling us to give preference to Him above all else - including the willingness to hate those who are closest to us.

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Luke 14:25-35

“Hate Your Father and Mother”

Today it is Mother’s Day. What are Mothers?

They’re the soothing voice in the middle of the night when you have been woken by a scary dream.

They are the welcoming embrace always ready to be given even when you have been really bad.

Mothers are generally the provider of meals which are made with heart and soul.

They’re the ones with all-powerful kiss which is able to make every sore better.

They are the embodiment of love and compassion.

That’s a mother isn’t it? She is the wife of noble character. She is the one we trust. She is there when we need her.

With that picture in the background let’s read Luke 14:25-35

“If anyone comes after me and does not hate their … mother … they cannot be my disciple.”

When you put it that way Jesus doesn’t seem to be a fan of Mother’s Day, does He.

No breakfast in bed for Mary that is for sure!

There is no doubt that this section of Scripture qualifies as a “Hard Saying of Jesus”.

Because it is hard to understand what Jesus is saying - especially when He uses the H-word.


It is hard … and seems strange … that Jesus would use such language. Especially when we think about other words from Jesus.

39 And the second (greatest commandment) is … : ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:39)

Surely, if we are called to love our neighbour, then family is part of that.

After all, there are a number of children who are literally the neighbour to their parents!

44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. (Matthew 5:44).

Love enemies? But hate your mother!!?

We can’t be putting the enemy below Mum, surely.

19 Honour your father and mother. (Matthew 19:19)

How can you honour if you hate?

There is something strange going on here. Something that we are perhaps missing.

And that “something” is the meaning of the word HATE

The dictionary defines hate in the following way.

when it is a verb:-

to dislike intensely or passionately;

to feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward;

to detest:

when it is a noun:-

intense dislike;

extreme aversion or hostility.

All the mums sitting here this morning are thinking, “What have I done?”

I know my hormonal teenager can get like this at times. But Jesus feels like this?

Let’s be honest even if our mums have not been that great.

Because that happens sometimes doesn’t it.

Mother’s Day is not a celebration of “nice and wonderful”, but it is actually a grief-filled reminder of “darkness and pain”.

But even then … it takes a lot of really negative emotion to have that extreme adversity towards a mum, doesn’t it.

Now you are not sure why, but you know that, when Jesus says “hate” He does not have our modern definition in mind.

And the “why” comes because of history. More specifically the historical reality the Jesus is a Jew. And when Jesus speaks these words He is speaking to a Jewish audience.

So Jesus is using here a Hebrew understanding of “hate”.

The idea is communicated in a strange law in Deuteronomy

15 If a man has two wives, and he loves one but not the other, and both bear him sons but the firstborn is the son of the wife he does not love,16 when he wills his property to his sons, he must not give the rights of the firstborn to the son of the wife he loves in preference to his actual firstborn, the son of the wife he does not love.

Deuteronomy 21:15-17

The unloved wife is not “hated” it is just that the has an attitude of indifference towards one of the wives.

The concept of “hate” in Hebrew is more along the lines of “I prefer X to Y”.

Like I said, a strange law that raises al sort of hackles, but it helps us understand.

We see a similar thing happening in Malachi.

2 “I have loved you,” says the Lord.

“But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’

“Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob, 3 but Esau I have hated (Malachi 1:2-3)

Does that mean Esau got nothing from God?

Not at all. Here is an instruction from God to the Israelites as they come from Egypt into the promised land.

4 Give the people these orders: ‘You are about to pass through the territory of your relatives the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir. They will be afraid of you, but be very careful. 5 Do not provoke them to war, for I will not give you any of their land, not even enough to put your foot on. I have given Esau the hill country of Seir as his own.

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