If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26).
This seem harsh. This seems contradictory to the God of Love that we know Jesus to be. So what can it mean?
By the way, that its the first question we should ask when we see something we don’t understand in the Bible, or when we see something that seems to contradict. There are no contradictions in the Bible. If we can’t reconcile two verses, i.e. ‘God is love’ and ‘hate your mother’ or ‘Honor your mother and father’ but ‘hate your mother’ then there is something I must do to understand it, because I’m wrong.
I like Gill’s Commentary. Many commentaries are available for free at biblehub.com. There are concordances, lexicons, devotionals, and more.
Gill’s says of the Luke verse:
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: not that proper hatred of any, or all of these, is enjoined by Christ; for this would be contrary to the laws of God, to the first principles of nature, to all humanity, to the light of nature, to reason and divine revelation:
but that these are not to be preferred to Christ, or loved more than he, as it is explained in Matthew 10:37
Ohhhh! Getting clearer now.
A parallel verse was mentioned so let’s take a look at it. Scripture interprets scripture. Commentaries are helpful, but scripture is best. That’s where parallel verses come in.
He that loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:37)
Christ should be primary in life and love. Paul carries this sense of highest love for one, that by comparison it’s hate for the other in Romans 9:13-
As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
The verse to which Paul was referring is from Malachi 1:2-3. GotQuestions is helpful here,
So, considering the context, God loving Jacob and hating Esau has nothing to do with the human emotions of love and hate. It has everything to do with God choosing one man and his descendants and rejecting another man and his descendants. God chose Abraham out of all the men in the world. The Bible very well could say, “Abraham I loved, and every other man I hated.”
Yes, context is king when studying scripture. The Malachi/Romans verse isn’t referring to one man, but nations from one man.
There’s one more parallel verse to the Luke verse I’d posed at the start. John 12:25-
Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
S Lewis Johnson of Believers Chapel Dallas had preached on this verse. He’s a preacher I like.He explained–
What does he mean by that? Why, you know he means that it is possible for us to be so desirous of life as we want to live it that we actually are unfruitful in our lives. We may desire the kind of existence that we desire, we want the world’s wealth, we want the world’s power, we want the world’s pleasure, we want the world’s glory, we want to live our lives as we wish to live them and that’s right, you may live for a time but you abide alone. … In other words, if you want to keep your life you can keep it, but you’ll lose it. And if you’re willing to lose your life, if you are willing to have your set of priorities such that Jesus Christ is first in your life, then you’ll gain it. And furthermore, you will gain it unto life eternal and fruitfulness.
Hate is complicated, isn’t it? There’s things God hates, things we should hate because God does, the world’s hate, our hatred of even our parents or our own life in comparison to the life we should live in Christ…
The Bible is an endless wealth and treasure of precepts and doctrines, all pointing to the One alone who is worthy: Jesus Christ. Emmanuel, God with us. Our love for Him should be the primary orientation of our lives.