Throughout the Gospels, we see enormous crowds following Jesus. He was like no other teacher of his day. He taught new perspectives to ancient Jewish teachings. He inspired people to be more then they were. He challenged them to draw closer to God. You could say, he challenged people to become authentic disciples.
Jesus attracted these crowds because he so commonly taught outside of the temple, and did so many wonderful signs outside the temple.
On this day, he looked at the crowds and he saw a group of people who were following him for the sake of watching him do amazing things. They had gotten so used to his incredible signs that for many, their only reason for following Jesus was to watch him. Let's call them consumers of Christ's ministry. Consumers come to be fed, nurtured, and possibly even entertained by Christ. What they didn't do was, in turn, take the information received from Christ and pass it along to anyone else. They didn't help further Christ's ministry at all.
Jesus looked at this crowd, a crowd of consumers, and he said these words to them. If you have your Bibles with you this morning, or you're following along in the Bible app, which I hope you're doing one of those two, you may notice that these words are written in Red. Many Bibles use red letters to notate Christ's words in the Gospels.
Back to our passage, Christ said to this crowd of consumers,
Most translations say "if you hate your father and mother." I love the fact that the Contemporary English takes the hyperbolic intentions of Christ into consideration when translating here. Christ wanted to emphasize the importance of his statement. He makes a similar when he says,
Christ wanted to emphasize that following him was not an easy thing. You must be WILLING to give up everything for Christ. The only way to do that is if he is the most important relationship you have.
There is always a cost in our lives for following Jesus, but in my personal experience, I have learned there is a more significant cost for not following Jesus.
What Jesus promised is that if we agree to put him above everything else, if we agree to obey his teachings, to sacrifice things that the world says is important, and to repent, then we will have a spiritually blessed life.
Christ brings this point home when he said,
What an odd thing for him to say to this group. He had just challenged them to love him more than everyone else in their lives. Now he wanted them to be willing to become criminals and to carry a cross towards death.
They key here is the extent that a person hates his or her own life. Now I don't mean we should go sit in a dark corner of your room and wallow in your own self-pity. Christ is trying to say that this life is nothing if we aren't willing to do the work that he calls us to do. If we are not willing to make the selfless sacrifices just as he did, then why are we here? If we can't obey Christ, no matter what the cost will be, no matter what people will say, then why are we here?
If we can't repent and change our ways, then why are we here?
Transformation is about matching our feelings and actions together. Or, about taking our head knowledge of Christ and putting our heart behind it. It's the old phrase, "Put your money where your mouth is."
Read Romans 12:2.
- What do you think Paul means by the "Renewing of your mind"?
- How does a mind transformation help you discern God's will for your life?
- Is there a difference in head knowledge and head transformation?
Read 2 Corinthians 5:17.
- What does it mean to be a New Creation?
- Is this different from having a mind transformation?
- What do you need to do to let the old pass so things can become new?
Read Matthew 11:28-30.
- How do our burdens keep us from transformation?
- What would your life look like if you honestly gave God all of your burdens?
- How can Christ help you grow in humility and gentleness?
Prayer for the Week:
Lord, help me recognize where in my life I am holding back. I want to be transformed. I don't want only to know who you are in my head; I want to know who you are in my heart. I want to know you in the depths of my soul. Show me what I need to give over to you so that I can find true rest. Take me into a deeper relationship with you each day. Amen.