“Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them, he said: 26 “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. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.  28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.”  (Luke 14:25—30)


            Large crowds always follow Jesus wherever he goes.  Jesus took the opportunity to challenge them.  If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and yes, even their own lives, SUCH PERSON CANNOT BE MY DISCIPLES.  Jesus will contradict himself in teaching about hating others, while in other parts of the scriptures, he teaches them to love their enemies.  We know from here then that Jesus is not advocating that I, as his follower, must have a hatred for people.   On the contrary, he is talking about priorities we place on my relationship with him and the people closest to me. 

            We cannot love and serve two masters.  Jesus challenges the crowds to follow him; they cannot be a part of the crowd but follow him as an individual.  Jesus challenges the crowd using their closest relationship to question their loyalty and commitment, and they must choose between the ones they love and themselves. 

            In essence, when I choose to love and follow Jesus with all of my heart, soul, and mind, it means, above all other relationships, Jesus takes priority.  It almost seems as if I hated my father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, and yes, even myself. 

I married my wife, and aside from Jesus, my love and commitment to her are so much so that my relationships with the closest people in my life become second to my relationship with my wife.  Does it mean that I hate my family?  No!  I still love my family, but when push comes to shove, I will be with my wife because we have become one person.  I cannot deny her place in my life.  I forsake ALL so I can become one with her.  No one will come in between her and me to separate us. 

Likewise, Jesus was after that same kind of commitment from the crowd who followed him around.  The challenge was will they forsake the crowd, their closest relationships, and even themselves and carry their cross.   To carry our own cross is to say, I have forsaken ALL and even myself and my desires so I may be with Jesus who loves me and I have come to love.  I am loyal to him who has died on the cross to prove his loyalty.  My loving Jesus and choosing him above my family and myself is the cross we must continue to bear.  It is a life commitment over all else.  It will cost me everything, even myself. 


            I am reminded again of the importance of being loyal and committed to Christ above all other relationships, including my desire to do whatever I want.  I will follow Jesus and love him more than all my relationships.  I am reminded of my commitment to my wife and that all other relationships matter; nothing comes close to my commitment and loyalty to her.  This year, I will continue to put my relationship with Jesus above all else. 


            Jesus, I am so grateful for the reminder today to love you with all my heart, soul, and mind.  Please help me to crucify all my desires for other things and to be single-minded in following and pursuing you.  Help me to love you and to commit to your ways and guidance.  Please help me make my relationship with you a top priority this year.  Help me not to love my vision and ministries more than I love you daily.  Please give me the joy of being with you always and learning at your feet.  Amen!