Sunday

04 September 2016

“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.” (v. 26)

Psalm: Psalm 139


Background

Jesus frequently speaks in an 'extreme' way - he goes too far, or he goes too far, and then a bit further. This is a difficult saying - it is intended to be and nothing we can do can change it, neither Jesus nor his words can be tamed. This gives us a choice, as Jesus did; what sense to make of him and what to do. He stresses the importance of choice, choice is the most important thing, don't just say yes without knowing what you are signing up for.

Of course there is huge exaggeration here, but it is necessary to make the point, for the follower of Jesus it must be as if he or she hates their most intimate family connections. It may be that this attitude of 'hating' frees us up to really love our neighbour as Jesus also told us. If we have this in mind then it cannot really be hate as that would drive us to hate everyone. Sometimes we struggle so much with what Jesus says because we have his plain sayings and then crash into the difficult ones, when it should be the other way around. He really did speak and teach like a Zen master with mind-bending koans (the most famous of which is, 'the sound of one hand clapping').

So to come back to the passage, Jesus is talking about himself, just think how he 'rejected' his family when they came to take him away (Luke 8:19-21). Who was it that put his own life behind his mission? He has already announced his own death (Luke 9:22), followed then by the same warning about taking up the cross (Luke 9:23-25). We won't return to the Gospels this week so we will have to carry Jesus' words with us.


To Ponder

  • What preparation did you make before following Jesus, or how could you prepare now, whatever spiritual path you are on?
  • What do you think of the idea of Jesus being like a Zen master?


Bible notes author:  Julian Bond

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