Church of Christ
In Luke 14:25-35, Jesus is
travelling with a “great multitude”, v.25. This was not unusual, and it may be
that He would draw from such crowds those to whom He may give a commission like
the 70. On this occasion, He
turns to them and warns them that not to hate to family members will mean they
cannot be His disciple.
The word Luke uses for hate is μισέω
(miseo) and is used 42 times in the New Testament. While there are occasions
when hate is used in a positive way (e.g. Romans 7:15; Hebrews 1:9;
Revelation 2:6, 15), it is a negative trait too (e.g. Luke 19:14; John
3:20; 15:23-24; Titus 3:3; 1 John 2:9, 11; 3:15; 4:20). Indeed, hating
another human being is not a Christian virtue and thoroughly discouraged as far
as another person is concerned. This seemingly insidious contradiction in
Jesus’ language lends itself to the critic and opponent of Christianity.
So, why does Jesus want us to hate
our family members? Actually, He doesn’t. As Nolland puts it, “The language of
hate is typical Semitic hyperbole”. He continues,
“…the Semitic idiom actually means ‘love less than’”. However,
hyberbole and semitic linguistics is not immediately obvious to the casual
On this point, Green is more
helpful, “…in this context, ‘hate’ is not primarily an affective quality but a
disavowal of primary allegiance to one’s kin.” He continues,
“…As in [Luke] 9:23, so here Jesus is calling for the reconstruction of one’s
identity, not along ancestral lines or on the basis of one’s social status, but
within the new community oriented toward God’s purpose and characterized by
faithfulness to the message of Jesus.”
This commitment to the “cause” over
the “family” is established by the actions of the Levites in Exodus 32:27-29
when they obeyed the Lord and began the slaughter in the camp with no regard to
even their own family ties.
Such a commitment may seem gruesome, even grotesque to us, but we do well to
remember that Jesus never expects His disciples to go around putting sinners to
the sword. Many atrocities have been committed in the past 2,000 years “in the
name of God” but none of them had His authority.
Jesus is using an hyperbole to
emphasize the new relationship that He is offering. Familial ties are often the
strongest and most difficult to cut. Yet, to follow Jesus demands a commitment
from His followers that would prize knowing Him above all else, even those we
have known our entire lives.
“…everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
 Luke 10:1, NKJV.
 Luke 14:26, NKJV.