Jesus said “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even life itself—such a person cannot be my disciple.”
If you’re the sort of person that likes to just flip open their bible at random and read only a couple of verses as your “verse of the day”, than you’d probably have to say “Yes. Jesus does want me to hate my parents.”
I trust Jesus. I trust what he says. Jesus said this. It must be true.
But maybe that’s not what Jesus is saying, and maybe there is a more helpful way of reading the Bible.
Reading the Bible is good.
Your youth leader wants you to do it. Your parents (if they’re Christian) want you to do it. Jesus wants you to do it.
The Bible is God’s way of communicating with us. It’s how he reveals what he’s like, what he values, what he is concerned for…
But the Bible is up to 4500 years old. The newest part is at least 1900 years old. It fair to say that the world has changed a bit since it was originally written. So here’s 4 ways to help you read and understand the Bible for yourself…
- Where does this book fit in the bible story?
- Does this take place before or after Jesus’ death and resurrection?
- Why was this passage written? (remember what the apostle John says in John 21:25… not everything about Jesus could be written down, so they only chose the important things to include in the gospels. Plus, writing was really expensive and they didn’t want to waste paper/parchment)
- What type of writing is this book/passage? (poem, proverb, letter, story…?)
- Is there any exaggeration to help make a strong point?
- Are there any words repeated or any patterns or themes developing?
- What does this passage tell me about God, Jesus, God’s people, or the world?
- What did this passage mean for the people who first read it? (put yourself in their shoes).
- How can I sum it up in our own words?
- What does this passage tell me to do today?
- Do I need to change my understanding of who God is, or what he does, or how he relates to people?
- Do I need to change some of my attitudes, start doing something I haven’t been doing, or change the way I live?
These 4 things aren’t going to solve all your problems in Bible reading… but it’s a good start.
Finally. Should I hate my parents? No.
In context, Jesus is talking about the cost of being his disciple (following him). He has revealed who he is to his disciples, and his mission (luke 9:18-26), now as he heads up to Jerusalem to be crucified he wants his disciples to be ready for what lays ahead. And what lays ahead for them is not for the faint hearted…
His meaning is that they must be prepared to put Jesus first, at all costs, even above their family – not to actively hate them, but to put Jesus first and foremost in their lives.
As an observation, you can see that Jesus is using exaggeration (hyperbole) to make his point have impact.
As an application, I need to put Jesus first above everything. Put aside my right to revenge. Put aside my hopes and dreams and goals to follow him into new life.