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God’s Word for You

Luke 14:25-27 fear, love, and trust in him above all things

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, September 27, 2018

25 Now large crowds were traveling with Jesus. He turned to them and said, 26 “Whoever comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother, his own wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.  27 Whoever does not carry his own cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

A hyperbole is a vivid statement, sometimes even shocking, which is not meant to be taken literally. It’s used to underscore the importance of what’s being said. Some Old Testament examples include:

“Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3). This means that Moses was very humble.

“The cities are large, with walls up to the sky” (Deuteronomy 1:28). The cities the twelve spies saw had high walls.

“There were seven hundred chosen men who were left-handed, each of whom could sling a stone at a hair and not miss” (Judges 20:16). The slingers from Benjamin were very skillful (but perhaps there was actually a “sling at a hair test” that qualified them for this special detail).

“The king (Solomon) made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stones, and cedar as plentiful as sycamore-fig trees in the foothills.” (1 Chronicles 1:15). Solomon brought great wealth to Jerusalem.

“Oh, for the days when… my path was drenched with cream and the rock poured out for me streams of olive oil” (Job 29:4,6). Job realized how blessed he was before his calamities happened.

In the New Testament, we hear hyperboles from both Jesus and his enemies:

“If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away” (Matthew 5:29). Jesus wants us to get rid of temptations, not body parts.

“The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him” (Mark 1:5). A very large number of people from rural and urban areas went out to see John the Baptist.

“Look, the whole world has gone after him!” (John 12:19). Jesus had a lot of followers.

So when Jesus commands us to hate our own parents or children, he does not mean that we should cultivate hatred, but that we should love God most of all. Joshua said, “Be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to obey his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and all your soul” (Joshua 22:5). Luther explained the First Commandment with simple, clear words: “We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.”

What we truly want to have is a faith that trusts in God this way. “Search and examine your own heart thoroughly,” Luther preached, “and you will find whether it clings to God alone. Do you have the kind of heart that expects from him nothing but good, especially in distress and want, and renounces and forsakes all that is not from God? Then you have the one true God” (Large Catechism on the First Commandment, par. 28).

To this Jesus adds: “Whoever does not carry his own cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” In his Gospel, Luke only uses the word “cross” three times: 9:23, 14:27, and during the crucifixion in 23:26. In this reference, Jesus is telling all of his followers, including you and me, to willingly bear those things that are burdens on account of our faith. He doesn’t just mean health problems, family problems, and ordinary money problems. He means the persecutions and hatred that come to Christians because of our connection to Jesus. Notice the translation, “his own cross.” “His own” is the reflexive pronoun heautou (ἑαυτοῦ, Latin suam). This word personalizes the cross for each one of us. Our crosses are not all alike; one person’s might be troublesome; another person’s might take away nearly all their strength. One of the many reasons Jesus wants us to gather together with other Christians is for encouragement in our troubles. Paul says, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). We are also reminded: “Do not imitate what is evil but what is good” (3 John 11).

Look to God constantly for good in your life, especially when you don’t think you can see it. Put your trust completely in him. Let no man, no woman, no income, no theory or thought, come between you and Jesus Christ. Make it your daily prayer and goal to fear, love, and trust in him above all things.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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