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Jesus said:

If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26)

Did Jesus really mean to hate our parents, loved ones, and our own selves? Didn’t He Himself command us to love our enemies?

He said:

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy

neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you,

Love your enemies. (Matthew 5:43, 44)

In Luke 14:26, Jesus told us to hate our own life. But elsewhere He said: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Matthew 22:39)

How can you “love your neighbor as yourself”, if you don’t love “yourself” in the first place?

Paul also said: For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it. (Ephesians 5:29)

Of the Ten Commandments, the fifth commandment states: Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. (Exodus 20:12)

Paul quotes this law and says it has a promise in it: Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise). (Ephesians 6:2)

It is clear from God’s Word that our parents need to be loved and not just that-but to be honored! In one of His confrontations with the religious men of Israel Jesus strongly advocated loving and honoring one’s parents. He told the Pharisees:

For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thoubmightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. (Matthew 15:4-6)

It is clear that Jesus believed and taught to love and honor our parents who were instruments in God’s hands, for our birth.

What then could Luke 14:26 mean? The context is important.

Just before He made this interesting statement, He told them a parable- the parable of the Great Banquet. See Luke 14:16-24. In this parable:

A certain man made a great supper, and bade many. (Luke 14:16)

When the supper was ready, the invitees were told to come. But many had excuses:

The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. (Luke 14:18-20)

This parable was a symbol of the “marriage supper of the

Lamb”, Revelation 19:9. Are not people in real life making genuine excuses for not following the truth and obeying the commandments of God? People are putting God’s invitation second. But did not our

Lord say what should be first? He said:

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.(Matthew 6:33)

None can take the first place-Be it our parents, our loved ones, or even ourselves. Even Paul wrote:

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the

Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price. (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20)

The Psalmist declared:

The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. (Psalm 24:1)

God has the moral right to ask us to place Him first, even before our own selves or anything or anyone else in this world. For two reasons God has a right to tell us this. Firstly, He is our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. Secondly, He did it first for us-He loved us more than His own self, more than His own life! He died that we might live. He denied self, took up the cross for our sakes! Doesn’t

He therefore have a double right to tell us to follow His actions?

John said:

We love him, because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

The word “to hate” our father and mother, and ourselves, does not mean to abhor. We get the meaning of it when we hear Jesus elsewhere about the same topic.

He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. (Matthew 10:37-39)

To “hate” father and mother, and self, and anything else, means we are not to love anyone “more than” Jesus. God is always first.

Therefore we are told:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. (Matthew 22:37, 38)