Hating Family: Luke 14:25-35

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Throughout the gospels, we read about Jesus sharing some pretty harsh things, and making some very challenging statements. However, if we were to rank Jesus’ difficult statements, in my own mind, one specific passage, specifically one verse in a specific passage, tops the list. If you are looking for a reason to not follow Jesus, look no further than the challenging verse near the beginning of our passage for this episode.

This difficult passage is found in the gospel of Luke, chapter 14, and we will read it from the New International Version of the Bible. Starting in verse 25, Luke describes the scene for us:

25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’

31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

34 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.

“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

Let’s stop reading here because this might be one of the most challenging messages Jesus makes in the entire Bible, and the way Jesus starts is perhaps the most startling.

If we ignore Jesus’ opening message, the rest of the passage sounds challenging, but it isn’t very harsh. Planning, saving, and being strategic with our finances and our resources is simply a smart way to live, and the majority of Jesus’ message is telling us to focus on the end goal when we are making plans to start. One big theme we can see in this entire message is to think with the end in mind.

In the case of the tower, we need to think with the end in mind and focus on what we will need to save in order to finish the project. And in the case of a war, it is only smart to analyze whether we have enough resources to win. In both cases, if we don’t have enough resources, it would be better to either wait or look at our other options.

The same consideration is present when we choose to follow Jesus: We must think with the end in mind. In the case of our faith, thinking with the end in mind seems on the surface to be easy. It is wonderful to think and dream about what heaven will be like. Thinking about heaven and focusing on eternity is one way we can have hope when our lives are falling apart.

But then why would Jesus start out by talking about hating those in our family if we truly want to be His disciples. This sounds needlessly cruel and in many cases, God has brought those people into our lives.

While we could look at this statement and think that Jesus simply said it to get the attention of those present, similar to a speaker today saying something shocking to get the attention of a crowded auditorium, I don’t think this would be a technique Jesus would use if the statement was truly false. If the statement’s only value was shock value, it would mean that Jesus lied to the crowd of people, and I don’t believe Jesus could or would deceive anyone.

However, I believe that the way Luke describes the scene prompts Jesus’ words and His message. Luke opened this passage in verse 25 by saying that “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus”. Another way to say this is that Jesus had become popular among the people. The challenge Jesus faced with a large crowd of followers is that Jesus did not come to start a popularity competition, and He did not want the popularity of the crowd.

Jesus came to give God the glory, to give His life for sinners, and to give us a picture of God’s love for each of us. Jesus pushed back against followers who were not sincere. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the majority of those in the crowd traveling with Jesus that day simply wanted to be near the most popular person in the country, and they enjoyed seeing miracles, and being able to tell their friends about what Jesus did and said.

Instead of giving into the popularity trap, Jesus cuts straight to the core of this crowd of “followers”. Just like Jesus describes in later portions of this passage and in other parts of the scripture, His followers are to think with the end in mind.

This means that we should really take a hard look at whether we are ready to be followers of Jesus, because followers of Jesus are hated by others, ridiculed by many, and killed in plenty of cases. If the choice comes to loving our parents, our siblings, our spouse, or our children over following God and His mission for our lives, we must choose God’s way over family – and even over our own lives.

A recent episode pointed out the truth that nothing anyone can do to us in this life can compare to what God will reward or punish us with after this life has ended. Because of this truth, we should be ready for trials to come from any and every direction. However, because of what Jesus teaches here and in other places in the gospels, we should keep our hope alive by thinking with the end in mind.

We can face more than we believe we are capable of when we keep eternity in focus. When trusting Jesus and looking forward to heaven is our focus, we rightly realize that the challenges we face today are insignificant in the big picture of eternity. If friends or family members choose to reject us because we have committed our lives to Jesus, know that Jesus has promised us a brand new family of believers in the New Heaven and New Earth.

While Jesus speaks challenging words to those of us who call ourselves Christians, His big challenge is to keep the end in mind when we face challenges in our lives today – and to intentionally choose to stay connected with Him each and every day moving forward into eternity!

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

Be sure to always seek God first in your life and to keep Him in focus as you go through each day. Be sure to live your life in a way that gives Him glory and in a way that is pleasing to Him.

Also, be sure to always pray and study the Bible for yourself to keep your connection with Him strong and your relationship with Him personal. A pastor or podcaster can give you great ideas to think about, but never let anyone come between you and Jesus!

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or fall away from where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year 4 – Episode 30: Does Jesus really want us to hate people? Would Jesus tell us to hate our own family members? Discover what we can learn from one of the most challenging passages in the entire Bible!

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