“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
(Matthew 10:37-38 ESV)
Yesterday we read the audacious words of Jesus in which He stated that He existed outside of the world. In today’s passage Jesus makes another outrageous statement. He demands that He be loved above all else.
Anyone who wishes to follow Jesus – which is the context of today’s passage – must love Jesus supremely. We must be more devoted to Him than we are to our own family (father or mother… son or daughter).
As we learned yesterday, the world is divided because of Jesus, sometimes even people within the same family. In that case a disciple of Jesus must side with Jesus. We must not placate others in order to keep peace. Doing so does no one any good.
When we care more about keeping peace with others we are enablers (to use a psychological term). We are only helping to send them to hell. Sadly, though, this is exactly the behavior the world wants us to exhibit. They call it “tolerance”. Actually, the right word is “selfishness”. When we are more concerned about our earthly human relationships than we are about seeing people know the truth we are acting selfishly.
Anyone who does this is not worthy of Jesus. Jesus’ love for us is so pure and so emphatic that it must be returned in kind. Anything less is an insult to Him as well as a less-than-ideal witness to those around us.
As if the demand to love Jesus more than our own families wasn’t bold enough, Jesus goes on to say that we should also love Him more than we love ourselves by telling us whoever does not take his cross and follow Him is not worthy of Him either.
Anyone hearing Jesus speak these words 2,000 years ago would have known immediately that Jesus was talking about death. Today we wear crosses around our necks as decorations. But the reality is that the cross was an implement of incredible torture leading to death. The only reason for taking up a cross (i.e. carrying a cross) was to die. The Romans forced a condemned criminal to carry their own cross to the place of crucifixion. Once someone took up their cross there was only one outcome. Death.
With this comment Jesus is telling His followers that He demands we be willing to die for Him. And while the obvious reference is to physical death, Jesus is also referring to the way we live while alive. Just as we should not love family more than Jesus we should love nothing about our lives more than Him. Not our jobs. Not our hobbies. Not money. Not TV. Nothing.
Like yesterday’s comments, today’s comments by Jesus could not be made by a rational-thinking human being. Only God could make such demands on our lives. Jesus was God in human flesh.
It’s certainly acceptable to enjoy many of the things life has to offer. We can enjoy nature and good food. We can enjoy our families and friends. We can enjoy sports and our jobs. But each and every one of those things must come no better than second in our lives. Jesus (who is God) must be first.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.