I’m addressing Christians! In reading and reflecting on the Holy Bible because we want to know God better and to gain strength to more consistently seek to please and serve Him and enrich our sense of peace with Him we focus on the person and work of Jesus of Nazareth, the now glorified and exalted Lord of All.
In our prayerful study we come across truths that make great demands of us and we come across texts, sections, events that we’re required to wrestle with. Jesus says we must hate our entire family if we want to be His disciples (Luke 14:25-33). He says if we won’t do that we cannot be His disciples! Three times in that section He says, “…cannot be My disciple if…”. Hate my entire family? What do we do with such texts? Knowing Jesus Christ, immediately and with complete assurance we say, “He didn’t mean that!” Yes, but it’s what He said! It’s what He said!
You don’t have a doctorate in hermeneutics to say immediately, “I know what He said but He didn’t mean we are to hate our entire family!” Knowing Jesus the first thing we do is to dismiss the impossible! Knowing Jesus Christ we know He didn’t mean what the words could be interpreted to mean just what they say. And they could be understood as promoting hatred—the words, I mean! But not if you know Jesus Christ.
I thought of using some texts to prove the words aren’t to be understood as Jesus promoting and even requiring that we must hate our entire families and friends but that would be a mistake. Understanding His words like that is so manifestly false no one who loves and admires Him needs ‘proof’. Once more, Jesus being who He was and is makes it impossible for us to believe He was promoting and required such hatred.
Having rejected the “impossible” we then move to explain what He did mean and what He did require. For He certainly required something! Three times, “You can’t be my disciple if you won’t…!” But it takes a bit more work to “explain” what He meant than it takes to “read” what He said. And sometimes we’re not able to say well what He meant. We might show how the word rendered “hate” doesn’t always mean “hate” the way we mean it. Yes, but sometimes it does mean “hate” in the way we mean “hate” . Jesus says the ‘world’ “hated” Him and will “hate” His followers (John 15.18). He uses the same word as in Luke 14.
What then? Is it lexically possible for the word “hate” in Luke14 to mean the same as it means in John 15.18? Yes it is! So, it’s possible for Jesus to be promoting and even requiring hatred? No it’s not! And how do we know it’s impossible when He is using the very same word? Because the person of Jesus makes it impossible! If Jesus Himself isn’t sufficient to bury the nonsense that He promoted that savage emotion hatred of our entire families and friends—if He isn’t enough to end the debate no verbal parallels or ‘explanations’ will work Best to shake our heads and be done with argument.
Should we not try to explain? Well of course we should; given the right circumstances and in speaking to the right people we should explain what Jesus meant. We’ll explain as best we can, hoping to say it well and so make it easier for those who need the help to understand. BUT get this, we work at ‘explaining’ because we already know that Jesus makes the hatred push impossible.
And Jesus said, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”