March 3, 2022
“Now the great crowds were traveling with Him. So He turned and said to them: ‘If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother...’”
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“Now the great crowds were traveling with Him. So He turned and said to them: ‘If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters – yes, and even his own life – he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.’” Luke 14:25-26
I have been in the music business for almost two decades. In that time, I have traveled worldwide and performed over 1000 concerts in all 50 of the United States. From this unique vantage point, I have observed many different types of “Christian” congregations and their perceived requirements for salvation. Some feel that a person must simply believe, while others require believers to be baptized. Still, others demand a follower speak in strange tongues. And the list goes on.
I have never seen a congregation that required its members to take up a literal cross as a sign of authentic faith. But this is precisely what Jesus is saying is a non-negotiable, as pertaining to true salvation. He says, “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” If most “mega-churches” emphasized this teaching, they would be destined to become “micro churches” overnight!
So, what was Jesus getting at?
He wasn’t telling people to become suicidal, sadistic, unloving, ungrateful, or ungracious. He was teaching those following Him around the cost of discipleship. Nothing, not even love for father, mother, or even one’s own life, is to take precedence over loyalty to God. We must reprioritize all that we have, acknowledging that if God is to be foremost in our lives, then possessions and even social relationships must be secondary to Him.
Jesus’ challenge would not be foreign to the average religious Jew. Remember what happened on the day the law was given by Moses. In response to Israel’s worship of the golden calf, Moses saw that the people were out of control.
“And Moses stood at the camp’s entrance and said, ‘Whoever is for the Lord, come to me.’ And all the Levites gathered around him. He told them, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says, ‘Every Man fasten his sword to his side; go back and forth through the camp from entrance to entrance, and each of you kill his brother, his friend, and his neighbor.’” Exodus 32:26-27
The Levites obeyed the command, and 3000 men fell dead that day. Because of their selfless faith, the Lord chose the Levites to be His priests throughout the generations. He chose them because they chose Him. Jesus is not commanding His followers to kill people!! Rather, He emphasizes how important it is for us to follow Him above all other relationships. Are you willing to choose to follow Him completely? Because that is the type of person, He is looking for to labor in His Kingdom.