Jesus has made some what we might call “scary” or “hard” statements in Scripture. In Matthew 10:34, He says, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword.” In Matthew 8:21, an unnamed disciple says he wants to follow Jesus but first asks leave to go bury his father. Jesus responds: “Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.” Pretty harsh statements – of course, each one with a valid reason. But, Jesus made a scary statement, one that causes me to examine my heart to its very core, in Matthew 10:37. Read the scripture reference again. Now, that is a stunning statement, one that challenges me to fully comprehend. That is because I love my wife. I love my children. I love my grandchildren and parents and siblings. I even love my in-laws. Because of my deep love for my family, Jesus’ statement makes me very uncomfortable. In fact, it terrifies me.
Similar to God’s statement to Abraham, Jesus is saying that when it comes to our family members, Christ must be in first place, or else He will be in no place at all when it comes to our lives. As hard as that is to take in, Christ wants to make it clear that if we want to follow Christ, He must be first. The fact is that if we love anyone (or anything) more than Jesus, we are not worthy of Him. And if that’s not tough enough, He goes on and says that we must love Him more than we love our own life itself. Jesus sets up high expectations for His followers. Am I willing to meet His expectations? I am, as tough as it may be.
How about you?