Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
This is one of Jesus’ more difficult teachings because it is easy to take it out of context or otherwise confuse its meaning. Jesus is certainly not saying that it is wrong to love one’s family. However we must keep our love for family in perspective.
Today as well, but particularly in Jesus’ time people had to make a difficult decision on whether to follow Him or not. It often meant leaving the religious traditions of the rest of the family. Not only would this cause pain within the family relationship, it may also lead to a person being an outcast from the family altogether.
Jesus is saying that every person must make a choice of whether it is more important to follow Him or to keep their family happy. There can’t be a middle ground with regard to this; a person must choose one or the other.
Today this issue often plays out in a different way. Parents are pressured to miss church services because a son or daughter wants to be involved in sports or some other activity. A parent must make the decision of what is going to be more important – church or the activity their child wants to participate in.
Many times a compromise is attempted but it rarely works. Parents justify missing some services because the activity is only for a few months. But then comes another activity and another. Just like family is important, there is nothing wrong with participating in sports or other activities but everyone must decide where their priorities are going to lie. Jesus wants people who put Him first in their lives and that even means over family.