Summary: Hate your parents, spouse, kids??? What is going on here in Luke 14? Before we decided to change the Word of God, consider the unthinkable with me for a bit. It might just open our eyes to a deeper understanding of who Jesus is.
(If you rate this sermon please offer helpful comments, God bless, Greg)
When was the last time you said something that you really didn’t mean?
What if I got up here and said, “If anyone comes to this church and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he can not be a member of this church.” Would that go over well? What in the world would you think? Wouldn’t we say just the opposite is true? We would say: If you don’t love your brother, you can’t love God. Love God first and love others as yourself are the central themes of this churches doctrine. That’s why when we come to Luke 14:25-27 it comes as a surprise to hear Jesus say what he says.
As I began to seriously consider and study on what Jesus said here in Luke 14:25-27, I noticed that the first thing almost every commentator basically says is this: “Jesus didn’t really mean that.” The very first response to Jesus’ words here by those who take him seriously is to try to explain that he didn’t say what he said. Isn’t that a bit unusual? Do we do that with other things Jesus says? I think we do.
At the end of Mark’s gospel (chapter 16) Jesus said, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved, he that does not believe shall be condemned.” I know that many who believe in Jesus today don’t think he meant that either. Although we believe those words, some of us wish he had just stopped there in Mark, don’t we. Instead, Jesus went on to say: 17 "And these signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it shall not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover." Did Jesus really mean that? Of course he did! And it happened just as he said it would. But we have to do some interpreting to separate obeying the gospel and what happens with those signs that followed, don’t we. But... at least we don’t say, “He didn’t mean that.”
But let’s get back to Luke 14:25-27. I hope your Bible is open. Look at this with me. See for yourself if your Bible says it.
Ready? Let’s let Jesus speak for himself.
25 Now great multitudes were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them,
26 "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.
27 "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
These are difficult words to swallow. Especially the words in verse 26: "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.
That four letter word “hate” speaks volumes. Surely Jesus can’t mean what he says here! is this a translators error? Did some naughty scribe mark out love and insert the word "hate" by mistake or just to be mean?
Before we deconstruct and undo what Jesus said here and reconstruct it to fit into a more comfortable line of thought, let’s do the unthinkable first. Let’s take him at his word and see what it does to our relationship with him. Before we run to the parallel passages that Matthew wrote, let’s let God’s word speak through Luke.
In order to do this, we need help. The contrast between Jesus words here and what he commands elsewhere are just too overwhelming. They keep running back into it and making us remove the “hate” word. How can he possibly mean for us to hate those dearest to us? We think we have to say that he either means something besides that four letter word “hate” here, or it undoes all the love he commands us to do to others elsewhere and everything we know the Bible says about loving our wives, children, and even our enemies elsewhere. Do you follow me? Stay with me here.
How can we possibly accept what Jesus says here? How?
What we have to do is take Jesus at his word even when it seems to contradict all of our logical, rational perspectives about him and what it means to follow him. I believe that Jesus said what he said here because we need to hear it. The Holy Spirit inspired Luke to record it here, because it calls us to discipleship like nothing else can. Jesus didn’t make a mistake. He didn’t choose the wrong word. He didn’t say something he didn’t mean to say. He said, “hate” and he meant “hate” the way he meant for us to understand “hate” in this context. Am I being clear? And he directed that terrible word toward those he knew we would not want him to direct it toward. Of all things! Jesus, why couldn’t you aim that loaded word somewhere else or at someone else!!! Why did you have to say it about those nearest and dearest to our hearts and lives? Why??? Surely you didn’t mean that. No! You meant the opposite, right?