Jesus cannot merely be our catastrophic insurance policy. He must be Lord of all! Great multitudes had been following Him – many who hadn’t surrendered all. He therefore chastened them with this parable:
· "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.' Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26-33)
To not make Jesus Lord over our entire lives is to retain lordship for ourselves and to use Jesus at our convenience – the very thing we cannot do! In comparison with Jesus, we are required to “hate” everything else, even our own lives. In this sense, “to hate” means to love less.
God had announced Rebecca that her older son Esau would serve the younger son Jacob. In comparison to Jacob’s appointed destiny, Esau was “hated”: "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." (Romans 9:13). God didn’t literally hate Esau. It is unthinkable that He would have told Esau’s mother Rebecca that He literally hated Esau even before he was born. Instead, God also had plans for him. He had appointed Esau to become the father of the Edomite nation.
However, the best indication of what it means to “hate” our families and our own lives comes from the parallel statement in Matthew:
· "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:37)
Here, the equivalent – “loves…more than Me” is substituted for “hate.” Therefore, instead of “hating” our own life, it is a matter of priorities. Jesus must be first in our lives!
However, Jesus also makes another point in this parable. We have to consider the costs of making Him first! To illustrate this point Jesus gives two examples of people who hastily make a commitment without doing a cost/benefit analysis beforehand. They therefore end up in an embarrassing situation, like the man who begins to build a tower but doesn’t have the money to complete it.
Jesus then concludes:
· In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:33)
From this, some have wrongly concluded that Jesus calls us to surrender all of our material goods. However, this cannot be the meaning. He is certainly not asking us to “give up” our clothing, the tools of our trade, our family’s home, or our children’s bread. In fact, He wants to give us all that we need:
· But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these [material] things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)
What benefit would it be to us if, after we had received “all these things” from the hand of our God, we then had to immediately give it all away! Instead, Jesus once again is preaching priorities. He and His kingdom must be first in our lives. Our needs must become secondary. However, if we put Him first, He will put us first on His agenda and take care of us.
Right priorities are precisely what Jesus is teaching in His “hate” parable. We are not to harm our families or ourselves but merely to regard them as secondary to Him!
What then does it mean to “forsake all,” as the NKJV puts it, or to “give up everything?” Simply to “forsake all” that might interfere with Jesus’ headship by placing all things beneath Him! When we refuse to do this – when we refuse to repent of our sins – Jesus warns us that we “cannot be my disciple[s].”
But isn’t this outrageous of Jesus to demand that He must be Lord of all? Actually, such a demand is born out of love! It is this love that requires us to make Him number one and ensures that “all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)