Modern television newscasters would have concocted a prominent scandal from these words.
Today, celebrated religious leader Jesus of Nazareth advocated familial hatred during His afternoon address. Analysts are comparing these current pronouncements with previously released statements that promoted loving relationships with neighbors and enemies. Informed commentators wonder if this indicates recent policy shifts. Other unconfirmed quotations suggest selling everything and turning the proceeds over to the Jesus movement. Stay tuned for further developments.
A closer study of the Bible and the way in which the word hate is used helps to clarify what Jesus meant. Deuteronomy 21:15 contains Mosaic legislation regarding men with multiple wives. The King James Version, following the natural sense, translates thus:
one beloved and another hated, concerning those wives. Moses’ point is that if the husband favors one wife above others, he cannot deprive those less favored. The New Revised Standard Version and Modern Language Bible change the terminology rendering beloved with loved and hated with disliked. The Tanakh (Jewish Bible) and the New American Standard Bible (Protestant) settle on loved and unloved. Clearly, the intended understanding was relative affection. Hatred in this context may indicate
loving less. Matthew 10:37, the parallel passage, certainly lends credibility to this suggestion.
Jesus’ point is simple yet full of deep implications. Whenever family receives precedence and Christ becomes secondary, Jesus relinquishes lordship. Serving multiple masters is impossible. Christ certainly supported strong family connections. Such connections, however, receive strength from unshakable foundations. That foundation means loving God unreservedly, first and foremost. God disallows every barrier, interruption, or distraction. Discipleship exacts the supreme price: undivided loyalty to Christ.
How do we, on a daily, practical level, put Christ before everyone, including family? What does it mean to do just that, and what could be some of the consequences?