Can you believe all of this “hate” talk from Jesus?
Jesus who is love personified—
Jesus who is self-sacrificial love to the max—
Can Jesus really mean
that in order to be his disciple—
we must hate our father and our mother—
hate our wives and our children—
hate our brothers and sisters.
Well of course not—
That’s not what Jesus means at all—
Actually it’s quite the opposite.
Taking care of—
Loving one’s family—
was one of the most important
commandments for a faithful Jew.
And Jesus was a faithful Jew.
The Gospel of Mark quotes
Jesus supporting the Jewish Law:
“For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’
and ‘Whoever curses father or mother shall die.’” (Mark 7:9-13)
God the Son does not contradict God the Father.
You see, Jesus is using hyperbole—
He’s using exaggerated—shocking language—
to grab our attention—
to get a very important point across.
Jesus is the master preacher.
And He knows sometimes we
can have short attentions spans—
He how we can drift off sometimes.
We use this type of exaggerated
language all the time to get someone’s attention.
“Put those scissors down—
you’re going to out an eye out.”
Well, probably not.
But it makes an important point—
Scissors are dangerous.
And today’s Gospel reading
Isn’t the only time Jesus tries to shock us
so we’ll listen to Him about something important.
Remember when He said:
‘If your right hand causes you to sin,
cut it off and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one of your
members than to have your
whole body go into Gehenna.”
He’s the master preacher—
He’s getting our attention—
He wants us to listen to something very important—
He wants to teach us.
You see, Jesus knows what sin does to us.
How it darkens our soul—
How it degrades us as human beings
made in the image and likeness of God—
How it deforms and ugly up our character.
And Jesus knows how much our
sin can harm and be hurtful to those around us—
how it can ugly up our families—
and our work places—
and our communities—
and our countries.
Jesus knows how sin can up God’s beautiful world.
“So, ‘If your right hand causes you to sin,
cut it off and throw it away. “
So we know that if Jesus is using such
strong and shocking and exaggerated language:
“If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother”—
He’s trying to teach us something very, very important.
Now that’s He’s got our attention—
What’s his message?
Well, it’s about something very, very important:
It’s about how we prioritize our lives—
It’s how we order our lives.
And that’s important. . .
It will determine who we will be life.
Jesus is saying always put me first—
Always put me first—
Even before our family and friends—
“Put me first!”
Not because Jesus is some self absorbed God.
it’s because Jesus loves us so much.
Jesus knows that if we put Him first—
Then we’ll thrive like we never dreamed we could thrive—
That we’ll live like we could never imagine living . . .
That we can change the world.
here’s the irony—
here’s the great Christian paradox—
that when we make Jesus first—
then we’ll love our fathers and our mothers,
we’ll love our wives and our children,
we’ll love our brothers and our sisters,
we’ll love everyone in our lives—
we’ll love them more—
we’ll love them deeper
than we could ever love them without
having Jesus at the very center of our lives.
And I mean really love—
That bled for and died for kind of love.
Even love our enemies.
Not only because Jesus is the model—
But also because the Holy Spirit gives us
the grace to love the way Jesus loves.
You see all this shocking “hate” talk”
Jesus ultimately leads us to a much greater love.
When we put Jesus first—
Then not only are we better lovers—
We’re better bosses—
You see Jesus came that we might
have life more abundantly.
C.S. Lewis, the great English writer
who converted to Christianity—
says that there is certainly a
high cost in becoming a disciple of Jesus.
Always putting Jesus first and not ourselves—
will certainly have it’s cost—
but the benefits are incredible.
Lewis says we don’t have the slightest
notion of the tremendous thing
God has planned for us.
“Imagine yourself as a living house.
And God comes in to rebuild that house.
At first… you can understand what God’s doing.
He’s getting the drains right . . .
He’s stopping the leaks in the roof and so on.
We know that those jobs needed doing and
so we’re not surprised.
But (then) God starts knocking out walls
and it doesn’t seem to make sense.
What on earth is God up to?
The explanation is that He’s building
quite a different house from the one we thought of—
throwing out a new wing here—
putting on an extra floor there—
running up towers—
We thought God was making us
into a decent little cottage:
But Oh no, that’s not it.
God has something much more in mind!!!!
God’s building us into a palace.
A Palace that he intends to come and live in it Himself.
Put Jesus first—
Lewis says that what God is saying is:
“If you let me, I’ll make you perfect.
The moment you put yourself in My hands,
that’s what you’re in for.
Nothing less, or other than that.
You have free will,
and if you choose,
you can push Me away.
But if you don’t push Me away,
understand that I’m going to see this job through.…
whatever it costs Me,
I will never rest,
nor let you rest,
until you’re literally perfect.
Put Jesus first—
He came that we might have life more abundantly—
He came to show us and
give us the grace to love—
I mean really love.
He came that we may be transformed—
And transform the world around us.
Someone once asked:
what does Jesus ask of us?
And what do we get back?
Answer: Even more.
Holy Spirit 09/07-08/2019