A Study of Luke 14:26: Jesus Calls His Disciples to A Life of Supreme Commitment -- By: Louis F. Gough

Journal: Ashland Theological Journal
Volume: ATJ 03:0 (NA 1970)
Article: A Study of Luke 14:26: Jesus Calls His Disciples to A Life of Supreme Commitment
Author: Louis F. Gough

A Study of Luke 14:26:
Jesus Calls His Disciples to
A Life of Supreme Commitment

Louis F. Gough

“If any one comes to me
and does not hate his own father and mother and wife
and children and brothers and sisters
and even his own life.
he is not able to be my disciple.”

(Luke 14:26)

Just what is Jesus saying here? On the surface he seems to be requiring men who would be disciples to despise relatives closest to them as a price to be paid for the privilege of discipleship. But the injunction, understood in this way, is out of character with Jesus and all that he taught as recorded in the gospels and with other sacred literature of both the Old and New Testaments.

Could he who took children in his arms and blessed them command fathers to hate their own sons and daughters? He also had shown tenderness and respect for children in saying that for one to enter the kingdom of God, he must be “converted and become as little children” (Matt. 18:3). On another occasion Jesus had said: “Suffer little children to come to me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:16).

It is also difficult to understand how Jesus could ask men to hate their wives and at the same time inspire Paul to write in the Ephesian Letter: “Husbands, love your wives as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it” (5:25). In fact if Christ demanded of his followers that they hate, or detest, their

wives, would he not be contradicting the basic principle of marital relations as divinely ordained in the beginning of the human race and as upheld by himself in his public ministry? “Male and female made he them. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh… What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mark 10:6–9).

If we are to connote detestation and feelings of extreme enmity towards others with the word “hate” as used by Jesus, do we not face extreme difficulty with his teachings as recorded in Matthew’s Gospel? “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, ‘Love you your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’ “ (Matt. 5:42–43). And how shall we harmonize the injunction “to hate” with a statement which is representative of the...

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