I’m going to add a disclaimer today. I also am going to do two passages because I missed yesterday.
Luke 9:23-24: [Jesus] said to them all, “If anyone wants to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his soul will lose it, but whoever will lose his soul for my sake, he will save it.”
Luke 14:26-33: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, and, yes, his own soul also, he cannot be my disciple. Whichever of you does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
“Which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and determine the cost so he knows whether he has enough to finish it? You don’t want to find out after you’ve laid the foundation that you don’t have enough to finish it. People will mock you, and say, ‘This man began to build, and he wasn’t able to finish.’
“Or what king goes out to make war with another king without sitting down and consulting about whether he is able, with ten thousand men, to face someone coming against him with twenty thousand? If he can’t, he will send an embassy and request conditions of peace while his enemy is still a long way off.
“So, in the same way, any of you that does not forsake everything he has cannot be my disciple.”
It’s okay to put things in context. We are supposed to show kindness and patience to everyone. That includes our mother, father, spouse, children, brothers, and sisters. Actually displaying hatred to our relatives would violate other commands of Christ (such as “love your neighbor as yourself”).
This verse means something, however. Jesus used the word “hate” on purpose. He wants us to not have the slightest temptation to choose the will of our earthly family over that of our heavenly Father. You can have no loyalty to your family that is anything more than the kindness God wants you to show to people upon this earth. Forsake his family for yours, and you will find God an opponent.
This does not mean that we should not be responsible for our own widowed mother or father. This does not mean that we should not work hard to support our family so that the church does not have to.
It does mean that you who have loyalty to family traditions had better get over them now.
Consider, O daughter. Listen, and incline your ear. Forget your own people, and your father’s house, for so the King will greatly desire your beauty. Worship him, for he is your Lord. (Ps. 45:10-11)
Jesus is looking for the willing, who will face whatever he puts in front of them. That is why he mentions carrying your cross. The cross was an instrument of torture and execution. It was a cruel death.
This is the call of the King. Will you follow him to death? Will you follow him through sufferings?
If you won’t, don’t get started. You’ll just embarrass yourself.
That said, my disclaimer is that neither you nor I can do anything without Jesus (Jn. 15:5). You are coming to the Lord of all the universe not just for a lesson, but for a transformation. There is no lack to what the believing can do.
This work is a process. The call of Jesus is not to prove your perfection and fitness. The call of Jesus is to acknowledge that he is worth everything. You have to start there and consider the cost of following. It is through many tribulations that we enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22). The work along the way, however, is his, full of grace (the power you need to follow), and mercy (God’s forgiveness when we fail).