Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”
The words of Jesus in today’s passage sound shocking. Does Jesus really mean that we are to despise our parents, family, and siblings if we want to follow Him? Certainly, this is not what Jesus means. The fifth commandment tells us to honor our fathers and mothers. Loving those placed in our lives is a demonstration that we are following Christ, so what does Jesus mean?
The challenge here is to put Jesus first. We are called to make Him the priority in our lives. When we are following Him and His love is flowing through us, then and only then are our lives in proper order. We can’t love others in a meaningful way without loving Jesus first. This is explained further when Jesus says that we must carry our crosses.
In Jesus’ day a criminal would carry the crossbar of the cross to their place of execution. The crossbar was placed on their shoulders with their hands tied to the beam. The vertical part of the cross was already at the execution site. The condemned was paraded down the street carrying the cross to demonstrate their submission to Rome. Carrying our crosses means that we are to submit to Jesus in every area of our lives.
Father, help me submit to You, Your Word, and Your will for me every day. Help me place You in the position of priority and authority. Let Your love flow through me to others You have placed in my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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