“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:26-27
Why would anyone want to follow Jesus after he made that very radical statement? Perhaps it would be good to look a little more closely at what He is saying.
The statement, “hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters and his own life also,” is not a call to reject the ones you love or to have self-loathing. The word “hate” in this passage means to “hold in lesser esteem.” Jesus means that trusting in Him means giving him first place in your life. He is not only the Messiah; he is also God. As the Sovereign Creator, Jesus has every right to expect His followers to show Him the highest devotion, love, and worship. However, to follow Him might run against the will of those whom we love.
Esther Ahmad was a devout follower of the teachings of Mohammed. She, at one point in her life, had even volunteered to become a suicide bomber. Thankfully, before she left to go to the United States as a suicide bomber, she was led to Christ by a brave medical student, who later became her husband. As a result of her new faith, Esther’s father decided to have her killed. Only by the miraculous protection of God was she, her baby and her husband able to eventually make it to the United States. If she went home today, unless she renounced Jesus, her father would feel obligated to have her killed. Esther loves her father, but she loves Jesus more. Her obedience is to Jesus first. She had to abandon her false beliefs to follow Him, and it cost her a lot. That price became her cross. She sacrificed her old life for a new life with Christ. But was it worth the price?
The Bible makes it clear that to follow Jesus is to become a part of His world. The believer now has a new family whose loving Father is the Creator of the Universe. Life is joyful due to being a new creation in Christ. Death is not feared because life with Jesus is eternal. Esther was willing to give up her family and old way of life to follow Jesus. It was her choice, what is yours?