At first appearance, the second verse of today’s reading doesn’t seem to make much sense. Jesus, who came and told us to love one another, seems to have done a complete 180 degree turn and told us to hate our family. “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. (V.26)” But it’s a little more complicated than that.
In this context, Jesus is talking about what it would cost for someone to be a follower of Him.
The first point He made, and to rephrase verse 26, is a disciple of Christ must love Jesus more than anything or anyone else; even choosing Jesus over your own life. The word hate is not in the form or anger, maliciousness or even a strong dislike for someone. But instead that you should love Jesus more than anything else.
The second point that Jesus made was that each follower would need to take up and bear his/her own cross. “whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. (V.27)” In roman times crucifixion was a horrible way to die. It could be slow, painful and romans at times even made the culprits literally carry their own cross, which would be quite embarrassing and shameful. However, in the same way me must be prepared to do the same thing for Jesus, we must submit ourselves to the authority of God and go after His will; whatever that cost would be.
The last point that Jesus gave is in Verse 33. “So therefore, any one who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” In Luke 12:33 Jesus encourages His followers to sell their belongs and give the money to those who are in need. Again, in Matthew 6:19-21 Jesus advises us not to accumulate treasures here on earth but instead in Heaven where they do not break or lose value. Jesus wants us to rid ourselves of the physical distractions of this world so that we may better devote ourselves to following Him.
Many people tried to follow Jesus wherever He went. But when things started to get hard, they left Him.
Are you ready to pay the cost of following Jesus?