37 “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.”
He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me.
The word “loves” refers to affection, a word for reciprocal love with someone. It is one thing to love someone, but it is another to like them. There are husbands who love their wives but do not like them. These couples have certain sublime moments, but the rest of the time they are at each other’s throats. When Christians have the capacity to love, they not only love each other but they like each other. This is rare but it comes with maturity from the Word of God and growth in Christ. It is wonderful to both love and like someone. If we love someone, we want to be with them occasionally, but if we like them, we want to be with them all the time. Jesus says in effect, “Your capacity for enjoying others depends upon your relationship to me.” If we put the Lord first, everything else follows.
“Worthy” here means more than deserving; it carries the idea of having ultimate value. Those in Christ’s ministry must value Him above all else.
And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
Love here has to do with priority of loyalty. It is tempting in the middle of family conflict to shift loyalty away from Christ. Natural affection cannot trump God’s greater, main concern.
And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.
The cross in this verse is not referring to the physical, wooden cross where Christ suffered, but to the custom of crucifixion. The Roman Empire customarily crucified thousands of people all over the realm. The “cross” refers to a method of execution that involved the condemned person carrying his cross to the place of crucifixion. This happened to the Lord. It was a sign of disgrace for the man carrying the cross, because those who carried a cross were condemned to die.
Following Christ requires sacrifice of self and self-interests. Jesus demands undivided loyalty. Carrying the cross involves giving up family relationships if necessary, putting the Lord before anything else. We cannot appreciate this unless we know His value. We cannot work up this kind of love, for we find it in understanding the person and work of Christ.
For the third time in two verses Jesus speaks of being “not worthy of Me.” Worthiness denotes equality of weight or value. People who do not put priority on things of greatest value do not give Jesus His due value. Jesus is the greatest weight on the scale of values. The price we put on Him transcends all other values. Jesus severed His relationship with the Father on the cross by His willingness to die for our sins. Jesus even allowed His relationship to the Father to break for three hours while dying on the cross for our sins.
He who finds his life [soul] will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.
The idea of “finds” is to discover, as in “he who discovers his life (soul).” In this context, family relationships have become the overriding importance of one’s life, making rapport with others a panacea. We never know who we are until we fall in love. A man may think he is totally self-sufficient, but when he falls in love, he finds out that there is an entirely different world! However, if he thinks this is the ultimate experience, then Jesus has a shock for him. If he thinks he has discovered his soul, it is a false impression.
The person who loses his life (soul) puts Jesus first. He loses his life, in the sense of understanding the most important dimension to life, by picking up the cross of Christ’s ministry. People will look down their noses at this mission. However, the person who does not put self first will “find” his soul in God’s plan for his life.
Every person has only two alternatives when it comes to Christ: (1) live for self or (2) live for Christ. Self-protection is an enemy of Christ. To gratify personal interests instead of living for Christ is to lose the life we have. Anxiety about persecution or shame is a value not worthy of Christ.
Following Christ is a radical issue of total commitment.
There is no neutrality when it comes to Christ; either we are for Him or against Him. He is a divisive person because of this. It is His message that causes the division; either we accept it or we don’t. Eternal issues are at stake; it is either heaven or hell—believe God or reject His message.