The Tabernacle Scroll

Issue 88

"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” (Luke 14:26).

This is one of the many ‘hard sayings’ of Jesus; hard in the sense that it is hard to accept. There were many truths that Jesus spoke which caused people to take offense and to stop following him. We are all familiar, for example, with Jesus’ declaration: ‘Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you shall have no life in you. For my flesh is meat indeed and my blood is drink indeed’. To the Jew, the drinking of blood was specifically prohibited in the Law, which was given by God himself, through Moses. So how could Jesus say such a terrible thing? They took offense and left him.

Let me assure you, many Christians today face the same problem, in that they take offense at some of the ‘hard sayings’ of Jesus. And so they continue to struggle in their Christian walk, continually trying to reconcile a ‘God of love’ with a ‘God who hates’. One ‘Christian’ once said to me he could not believe in God being a loving God anymore “because it says in the Bible ‘Jacob I loved but Esau I hated’ ”.

The problem lies, not in the saying itself, but in our understanding of it. In every language there are grammatical devices that help us to ‘get the picture’, as it were, of what the speaker is trying to convey. Metaphors, Figures of Speech, Similes etc. are literary devices. We are not to take everything literally, but discern the grammatical device in use so that we get a proper understanding of the text. In the passage before us today, for example, Jesus is not asking us to have hatred towards our family members! Jesus was using what we call ‘idiom’ to convey the idea that our love for Him must be so unhesitatingly first, that our love for our nearest and dearest family members is as hatred in comparison! The effect is to create a stark comparison. Idiom makes use of a well-accepted characteristic of a people or culture (in this case strong family ties) to explain another thought (in this case, loving Jesus). Jesus was comparing the love that bound family together (which they understood) with the love that makes disciples (which they needed to learn). Jesus was teaching that true discipleship involves a cost. It involves giving up many things that we love dearly! The Lordship of Jesus means that no one can have equal claims with him to our loyalty and allegiance. There can be no compromise, no conditional surrender. When you think about it, the great commission was about the making of disciples, not converts! Have you counted the cost of discipleship?

            Devotional                                                                                                                            Preach The Word The Word with Pastor Joseph Rodrigues