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A Proper Perspective for Relationships

07 Nov
Simon of Cyrene - 2

from Google Images

Sometime after leaving the home of the chief Pharisee, Luke tells us that a multitude followed Jesus (Luke 14:25). Jesus stopped and turned to them and said that anyone who doesn’t hate his father, mother, wife, children, brothers and sisters cannot be his disciple. In other words, Jesus claimed that a disciple’s relationship with Jesus must come before any other close relationship, even one’s family (Luke 14:26). Does Jesus really intend that we actually despise our families so that we can follow him? No, this is not his intended meaning, because, if that were true, it would contradict other places of scripture, where we are told to love our parents, our wives, our children and our brothers and sisters.

Scripture cannot be used to contradict itself, if we are to draw its proper meaning out of it. For example, husbands are to love their wives (Ephesians 5:25; Colossians 3:19), so how does one hate or despise the very one he is commanded to love? The fact is, if one doesn’t love one’s family enough to care for their needs, he has denied the faith and is worse than someone who has rejected Christ (1Timothy 5:8).

The word Luke uses for hate (G3404) usually means to despise someone or something. However, it can also mean to love less, as is seen in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament Scriptures. This same Greek word (G3404) is used for Jacob’s relationship with his wife Leah. Jacob was very much in love with Rachel, Leah’s sister, but through trickery Jacob had married Leah. The scripture says that Jacob hated (G3404) Leah (Genesis 29:31). Yet, in an expression of love and care for her, Jacob placed her next to last behind him, when he feared his brother was on his way to harm both Jacob and his loved ones (cf. Genesis 32:7-8; 33:1-2). He did  this hoping to at least save Leah and Rachel, if harm did come.

Therefore, Jesus couldn’t have meant that we must despise our families in order to be his disciple. Rather, just as Jacob loved Leah less than he love Rachel, so Jesus’ disciples need to place their relationship with Jesus foremost, above all other relationships, including that of our families.

Jesus’ next point almost seems out of place, as far as his argument is concerned, but it really isn’t and here’s why. Many folks who read Luke 14:27 think we have a cross to bear in order to follow Jesus, but this doesn’t make sense. There was only one cross, and Jesus bore it for us. Certainly, Jesus does tell us that following him means we shall be persecuted and treated just as he had been treated.

In my opinion, the text can have one of two meaning, and, perhaps sometimes both are applicable at the same time. First of all, in Matthew 16 Jesus had just begun to teach his disciples about his own future death upon a cross (Matthew 16:21), so in this context, he mentions it again in Matthew 16:24 saying, if anyone desired to follow Jesus, he must take up his cross and follow him. The context is one of suffering for the sake of Christ—for the sake of following Christ, we take up a cross. I believe this refers to what occurred as Jesus was carrying our cross to Calvary. Simon was made to carry Jesus’ cross and follow behind him (Matthew 27:32). It is a matter of bearing the shame of Christ—the shame of being numbered with him (cf. Luke 9:26; Acts 5:41).

Secondly, and I believe this fits the context of Luke 14:27, the fact is the word cross comes from the Latin crux not the Greek, but the Greek word here is stauros (G4716), meaning a stake. Jesus was nailed to a stake with a crossbeam attached. A stake often points to what one values or possesses, i.e. what we have a stake in. The Feast of Tabernacles celebrated the Jews’ time in the wilderness, where they moved from one place to another. Whenever they moved, they pulled up their stakes, and moved on. It is a tragedy that this Greek word is always translated as cross in the New Testament.[1] The context of Jesus’ words is that we need to be ready to follow whenever and wherever he leads. In other words we need to be ready to pull up stakes at anytime and follow Jesus. We have no stake in this world, even our families must come second to Jesus. This is the real point Luke is making in this Scripture.

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[1] This merely shows the influence of the Latin Vulgate had upon the Greek text translators.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on November 7, 2017 in Gospel of Luke

 

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2 responses to “A Proper Perspective for Relationships

  1. Eddie

    November 7, 2017 at 10:27

    Hi Dave. Thank you so much for your encouragement. I love the book of Acts. I taught a Sunday school class on Acts. I hated to end it. We didn’t abide by a time limit either. I think it lasted almost two years.

    Lord bless you.

     
  2. Dave White

    November 7, 2017 at 07:55

    I love the depth of analysis you provide. It is so easy to just read without truly understanding. I guess that’s why, in my Sunday School class, we have been in Acts since January!(now in chap 9!) Thanks
    Dave

     
 
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