The Lord Jesus Christ was a wonderful preacher and teacher of the gospel. As we read the New Testament, we see that Jesus had some tender things to say, but He also had some tough things to say to His disciples and the crowds that followed. When we read the tough words of Jesus, what should we think? Are they merely “shock” words to get our attention, or do they pack a punch with a genuine meaning? It’s extremely important to read Jesus’ words with the realization that He intended something by what He said. Our Savior never wasted words – and we must submit ourselves to our Lord.
We have all heard the preachers who labor to use phrases that bring a sense of “shock” to their audience. That’s needful at times, especially when it leads the audience to a doctrinal truth contained in the text rather than a pragmatic opinion of man. When we read Jesus’ words, He often times used phrases intentionally that brought His listeners to a great sense of shock and awe – and at times – intense anger. Rather than trying to become the next viral Youtube clip – Jesus intended His shocking words to get the attention of His audience in such a way that they would either bow to His Lordship or condemn Him as a heretic.
When we read the words of Jesus in Luke 14:26-27 what do we think? Jesus said, “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.  Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” These words are extremely shocking to say the least. Does Jesus expect us to hate our family in order to be His disciple? The answer is – yes and no!
In his book, What Jesus Demands From The Word, John Piper writes, “In other words, following Jesus is so supremely important that it calls for behaviors that are sometimes going to look like hate to the world. I have seen this lived out in agonizing choices that missionaries make to take their little children to risky places and leave aging parents behind, well cared for, but perhaps never to be seen on earth again. Some call it loveless. But Jesus has his eyes on the nations and what love demands in their case.”1
In the eyes of the world, our service and devotion to Christ will look like hatred to our jobs, possessions, and even our family members. As Christians, we are literally slaves to Jesus. When Jesus purchased us off the auction block, we became His free slaves. He is our Master and we are His salves. Therefore, we have no right to command our priorities, ambitions, goals, career plans, or family plans to Jesus. It is our duty to submit to His sovereign will. That type of surrender appears as hatred to the world. It appears that we hate our job, our possessions, and even our family when we forsake everything to follow Christ in this life.
In 1998 I had the privilege to travel to Zimbabwe on a mission trip. I recall meeting a family of missionaries there in Zimbabwe. During our time with them, they shared their conversion and calling to the mission field with us. The wife recalled her struggle with leaving home. Her parents were attached to her children. At one point she talked about how her parents offered her money and a place to live if she would refuse to go to the mission field with her husband. What did she do? Her decision was to leave her parents and serve Christ in a foreign land. Why? It wasn’t because she hated her family. It was because she loved Christ more than her family. In the eyes of the world – it looked like hatred.
How does this play out in your daily life? Do you place Christ above baseball? Do you place Christ above your career goals? How useful are you to the Lord Jesus Christ within your local church? Do you place Christ above your technology? Is Christ above your family? Do you have Christ above your friendships? It is needful to ask ourselves these important questions because Jesus was no “shock-jock” preacher. He actually meant what He said. If we error in this area – it will most certainly lead to idolatry. We may not be tempted to worship a golden calf or a carved wooden object, but we will certainly be tempted to worship sports, jobs, friendships, and even our own family.
Jesus said it best when He said these words found in Matthew 13:44 – “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Jesus really is worth it!
“Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.” – William Carey (Baptist Missionary to India)
For His Glory,
Pastor Josh Buice
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1. Piper, John. What Jesus Demands From The Word, 72.