Luke 14:25-27 - Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them He said: "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be My disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow Me cannot be My disciple." (NIV)
This devotion pairs with this weekend's Lutheran Hour sermon, which can be found at lutheranhour.org.
Do you have someone in your life, who says things, and when you hear them, it just makes you love them for it? And because you love them, you want other people to love them, too. But other times, loving this person can be a hard sell. It's a hard sell because they also say things that you wish they wouldn't. But they said it. And it makes them that much harder to love.
In today's reading, Jesus is a hard sell. Now, before we say too much, we should try to understand His meaning in this business about "hating" our loved ones. First, we should note how Jesus is using exaggerated language for the crowds because He wants them to know that He didn't come to put on a show, but to build disciples. And He wants us to know that when we love Him, to some it may look like hate—that loving Jesus looks like hating yourself and hating the people you naturally care about. He is not telling us to nurse resentful feelings against our family members. That would be too easy for us. Instead, Jesus is calling us into something difficult. He's not out for a petty competition with your existing feelings, loyalties, and priorities. He is out for a total takeover.
Maybe you've heard the phrase "hostile takeover." In a business context, a hostile takeover is when one company is acquired by another against the wishes of the acquired company's current management. This can give us insight into what Jesus says about being His disciples. People who love Jesus have come under new management. Whatever loves or loyalties or personalities that were directing life for you before Jesus—those all must go. They have no more decision-making power. You can't come to Jesus still clinging to that old management. This is a takeover, not a merger of equals.
And this is what makes Jesus a hard sell. But Jesus never put Himself in the position to be bought or sold. He is the buyer. And what looks like a hostile takeover is in fact a gracious bailout, because, by His own blood, Jesus bought our freedom from the bloated spiritual conglomerate of the world, the devil, and our own sinful flesh that would have run this business into the ground. That old management has been ousted for good. And our part of the deal is to trust Jesus. Trust is fitting because we didn't merge with an equal. We were bought back from death by our Creator. And because, in the final analysis, this isn't a business, there are no qualifications we must maintain to keep Him invested in us. Even before you counted the cost to follow Him, He had counted the hairs on your head and the cost to save you. You and I would have been a tough sell to anyone else. But God didn't count twice. And because of Jesus, there are no qualifications. That's what love means to Him. And He's the One who counts.
WE PRAY: Dear Jesus, You bought us back by Your blood, now send us back into our homes and communities to be Your disciples and build disciples in Your Name. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Rev. Dr. Michael Zeigler, Speaker of The Lutheran Hour.
1. Have you ever identified with that crowd around Jesus, interested but still uncommitted? What was it that brought you to Him?
2. Having come close to Jesus, what false securities and comforts of that "former management" still tempt you?
3. How has Jesus continued to graciously invest in you?
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