Someone once called Jesus the greatest marketing genius of all time. Today’s passage shatters this false image. If He hoped to market His message to His contemporaries, He was surely the worst marketer of all time.
We sometimes present the gospel as a solution to life’s problems. Are you lonely? Is your marriage in trouble? Trust in Jesus. Yet Jesus’ teaching conveys a different message. Jesus warned His would-be followers that their allegiance to Him might create problems, and these problems would surface in their most cherished relationships.
It’s noteworthy that the kinds of relationships mentioned by Jesus in verses 34–35 are all focused within one’s family. Jesus experienced this first-hand at the beginning of His ministry when the members of His extended family claimed that He had lost His mind (Mark 3:21). Jesus’ own brothers ridiculed Him, although His brother James later came to believe (John 7:1–10; James 1:1; Acts 12:17).
Jesus’ warning comes from Micah 7:6, a passage that many of Jesus’ contemporaries understood as a depiction of conditions that would take place prior to the arrival of the Messianic kingdom. This wasn’t only a practical warning to those who intended to follow Jesus but also a signal to those who heard that Jesus was Israel’s promised Messiah. Jesus lays down a stark condition.
Anyone who intends to follow Jesus must be prepared to put Him first in every relationship. We are still obligated to love our parents, spouse, and children but we must love Jesus more (v. 37). These aren’t slick promises designed to win customers. They are an uncompromising call to take up the cross and follow Jesus.
>> Has your commitment to Christ created problems with someone you love? You are not alone. As painful as it may be, Jesus really is worthy of such unrivaled devotion. Christ’s love for those you love far surpasses your own.