Monday

04 June 2012

"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." (vv. 26-27)

Background

I have often wondered about the families that the disciples left at home when Jesus called them to leave their nets and follow him. We know that Peter at least had a mother-in-law, so he clearly had a wife and family who would be left when the three years of following began: how did they feel? We can't, of course, tell. However, in this passage Jesus seems to be saying that anyone who wants to be one of his followers has to do just that, leave everything behind to undertake his work.

I knew an elderly woman some years ago in a church in Lincolnshire, who travelled to church in a motorised wheelchair but she had a wonderful story to tell. One Sunday some years before she heard a speaker who had been a sister working with Mother Theresa in India, and put out a challenge to anyone with nursing experience to seek God's guidance as to whether they were being called to a similar ministry to hers. The woman concerned went home and prayed hard about what she had heard. She was no longer young, she had a husband at home, her family had grown and flown, and she was convinced that she was called to go. She went to Calcutta and worked the streets in that project for almost two years before returning home. Her husband was happy to allow her to go and joyful on her return. But the people in the church were less than happy: they questioned her motives, they told her it was wrong to have gone, and she was left very unhappy by the criticism she received.

She had followed to the letter those words from verses 26 and 27. She had left the comfort of her home, and the love of her family to serve Jesus. And just as I suspect was the case with the disciples, she earned not only kudos but criticism as well.

To Ponder

How would you have reacted to the story of my friend in Lincolnshire?

What would you be prepared to give up for Jesus?

How can you support others you know to respond to God's call?

Bible notes author: The Revd Pat Billsborrow

  • Sign up for e-newslettersKeep in touch with what interests you