The Bible Answers Short Questions From Our Readers
Plain Truth Staff
In Luke 14:26 Jesus is quoted as saying: "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." What did Jesus mean by this enigmatic saying?
Let's understand this verse in its context. Jesus charged His disciples: "But I say unto you which hear, LOVE your enemies..." (Luke 6:27). He also said: "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? For sinners also love those that love them" (Luke 6:31-32). In other words, Jesus clearly commands us NOT ONLY to love those who love us - which should include our relatives - but ALSO to love our enemies who hate us! The Bible does NOT contradict itself! "... the scripture cannot be broken" (John 10:35). Then what did Jesus mean when He said "hate" in Luke 14:26? The Greek word for "hate" in this verse is misei. Its Greek root can mean "to love less, to postpone in love or esteem, to slight" (Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament). What Jesus is saying, then, is that anyone who follows Him must LOVE HIM MORE than family or relatives or even his own life! In comparison to the great LOVE we ought to bear for Jesus Christ-the One who died for us, our Saviour and Redeemer-the love we have for human relatives must be less by comparison. Jesus said that the second great commandment is "... Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (Matt. 22:39). But what is the FIRST great commandment? "Thou shalt LOVE THE LORD THY GOD with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and GREAT commandment" (Matt. 22:37-38). One who has such love for God and His way of life will not compromise principle. He will not put any human relationship first. (Compare this with James 5:4.) We should love God with ALL our heart, soul, mind and strength and love our neighbors as ourselves-yes, even love our enemies. But what Jesus meant in Luke 14:26 is that we must not put the demands and desires of our relatives and friends first-above our obedience to God Almighty!