Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.
“Salt is good; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; they throw it away. Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”
This may be one of the more pointed parables that Jesus told. And the stinging part may revolve around the word “hate.” To be a disciple of Jesus, do we really have to hate our father and mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters, and our own life?
To answer that, Jesus, while addressing large crowds of would-be followers, went on to talk about a builder, a king, and salt. In each of those examples, Jesus was talking about total dedication. So rather than love/hate language, it seems to me that Jesus was talking about putting our discipleship and dedication to God first.
What will cause you to stop short on the path of following Jesus? What mom and dad tell you? What your spouse or children need from you? What your closest friends and sibling encourage you to do? What your wants or desires (life itself) pull you toward?
All these (parents, spouse, kids, siblings, friends) can still be part of the life of a disciple of Jesus, when the Lord is our primary focus. In fact, when we truly love the Lord our God, the way we treat our neighbors and ourselves is also bathed in love.
Dear God, let me keep you first in my life, so that I may live and love as a growing disciple of my Lord and Savior Jesus in whose name I pray. Amen.