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Summary: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27)

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27)

Hate my father and mother? Brothers and sisters? Sounds a bit harsh doesn’t it? Not much of a Mothers Days weekend topic, Steve. Any other cheerful aphorisms you want to lay on us while we plan our special day with mom?

That verse and its twin, Matthew 10:37 are what’s known as red letter verses. Some Bibles have all the words Jesus actually said Himself printed in red ink. That way you know Jesus’ actual words from the rest of the Bible.

Want to know what else is in red letters? “… unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” (John 6:53) That’s a tough one to explain to a third grade Sunday school class. I’ll bet they don’t make flannelgraphs for that verse.

Jesus said a lot of disturbing things.

Do you really think He wanted folks to hate their mothers and eat His flesh and drink His blood?

Probably not.

But, for a lot of us, He was saying something equally radical. Unless you’re willing to walk away from everything you know and everything you value, everything that’s secure and meaningful in your life, you’re not worthy to become my follower. To people who put their families ahead of everything else, that meant mom and dad and brother and sister. To a young rich ruler, it meant selling everything he had and following Jesus. To the crowds who couldn’t see past Jesus’ miraculous bread and fish dinners, it meant forgetting about food and feasting on Who He really was.

Jesus was a radical. He told His followers, unless you’re prepared to be a radical too, don’t bother coming along. This disciple thing ain’t no hobby. Unless you’re willing to despise everything this world has given you, family, friends, wealth, security, sustenance, even your own life, for the sake of following Him, don’t bother coming along.

It still sounds harsh.

There’s got to be a happy medium …doesn’t there?

Sorry, there’s not. You’re in or out, that’s the deal. By the way, Jesus lost a lot of ‘disciples’ every time he said something like this. Only the radicals stayed around.

I’ve got some good news for you though. Jesus loves you. The One who wants you to give up what’s dearest to you, gave up His life so you could live forever.

Another piece of good news? He’s not interested in you hating your mom and dad and He doesn’t necessarily want to you to go through life penniless or hungry. That wasn’t the point.

This is what He meant - If you’re going to follow me, someday you’re going to get hit with a choice. It may be: follow what mom and dad have planned for you of follow what God has planned for you. It may be: keep the money and possessions you’ve worked all your life to acquire or give it all away and embark on a mission only you know is true. It may be: remain in your daily grub for sustenance because it’s a known quantity or give up your loaves and fishes and feast on food that will wake up your soul.

If you want to follow Him, the day will come when you have to decide what’s important. It always does. If you’re not willing to let go of everything you’ve got, don’t follow along.

*****

I learned a poem in high school. The only poem I’ve ever memorized. As a high school kid I thought it was pretty impressive to know any poem that didn’t start with “Jack be nimble.”

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them both about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost wrote that. I rewrote it from memory … after all these years. I’m still impressed.

I’ll be fifty next week.

My high school wrestling coach, Gary Bowden, was inducted into the California Wrestling Hall of Fame last weekend. I’m proud of him, he deserves the honor. I couldn’t be there to see it. The east coast is a long way from the west coast.

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