There’s just one scripture that I want to close with in which Jesus, apparently, tells us not to honour our parents. Sometimes this causes a bit of trouble and one of the books which I read recently by a Jewish man (Asher Norman) called ’26 reasons why Jews don’t believe in Jesus’ quotes this verse to say that Jesus actually told people to break the Commandments.
Let’s have a look at it and see what the scripture says. Luke chapter 14 verse 26:
So does that say the opposite of what I’ve just been saying? Did Jesus actually tell you to hate your father and mother? I see a few people shaking their heads.
Jesus, on at least three occasions in the Gospels, affirms the 5th Commandment that you should honour your father and mother. So, what did He mean by this?
Sometimes, the use of the word ‘hate’ in the Bible actually means to ‘prefer’ or to ‘consider something more important than something else’.
In this case, if a person is coming to faith in Jesus, quite often, they’ll face opposition. The first line of opposition will come from their family, especially, if they come from another religion, from another faith, and this opposition may come from the father and the mother.
If you come through to faith in Jesus from another religion, particularly think of Judaism or Islam, you’ll be told by your family and especially by your parents that you are betraying your family, your ancestors, and that you are a traitor to your people.
You may be kicked out of the family, you may even have an attempt on your life, especially if you come from an Islamic background.
What Jesus is saying here is that the Kingdom of God comes first over family loyalty, especially in the case of religion. In fact, if you think about it, most people follow a religion because their parents followed it.
99.9% of the people who believe in any religion whether it’s Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism do it because their parents did it. They may not actually believe it or understand it but they follow it because that’s what their family does. If you become a Christian and you’re born again, then you’re going to be going against that whole tradition and you may face real opposition.
Jesus is saying here seek first the kingdom of God. The priority has to be your commitment to Jesus Christ and if it causes offence to your family that is something you’re going to have to live with. Don’t make it more offensive than it needs to be, but put Christ, put the Kingdom of God first. And, if your family tries to stop you from following Jesus, then follow Jesus, not what your family says.
I guess any of us who come from a non-Christian background may have experienced some opposition from our parents.
Even my parents, who were Church of England, when I became a born-again Christian and I started talking about Jesus, they thought I’d joined some weird cult, because, people in their Christian circles never did that.
When I got baptized especially, they said ‘that’s like you’re denying what we gave you, because you were baptized as a baby‘.
I said, ‘Well, I had to be baptized on confession by faith‘.
And it was all a bit difficult to begin with, especially when they arranged for me to go and have a talk with a vicar, and they hoped that the vicar would ‘sort me out’.
I discussed it with the vicar and he said: ‘So, what are you talking about ‘being saved‘?
I said ‘Well, according to Ephesians, by grace you’re saved. Just read this in Paul’s letter‘.
He said, ‘Don’t give us Paul’s letters. I don’t believe all that.’
Then, I went home and we had a meal around the table and my sister was there who was actually being confirmed under this vicar,
And I said ‘the vicar’s not a Christian‘. At which point my parents said ‘You really flipped! You’ve lost the plot totally! How could the vicar not be a Christian? Don’t say that, because you’re upsetting your sister. He’s her spiritual advisor.‘
So, I said, ‘Well, that’s what I’m worried about.‘
And they really thought I’d joined some weird cult until we got married in All Saints, an Anglican church, and that sort of seemed to smooth things over.
Now it’s okay. I mean, we didn’t have any problems with it, but the problem exists even when you come from a nominal Christian background.
It’s much worse if you come from a Jewish background or you come from a Muslim background. You’ll inevitably be told that you have betrayed your people, that you’ve gone against what you’re supposed to do and that you may be kicked out and have difficulties.
Jesus said you’ve got to carry your cross and follow me. Take up your cross and seek first the Kingdom of God.
So, put your loyalty in God first, above loyalty to parents, but also, even in that situation, still keep that Commandment to honour your father and mother and seek reconciliation, seek their salvation, and seek to be a good child to your parents.
In conclusion, even the best of parents fail in some ways, and all children, in some ways, fail to honour their father and mother. That’s the problem of the sin nature which is actually why the 10 Commandments are revealed to us show a way out which is to repent and believe the Gospel, to believe in Jesus, and to come back to our loving heavenly Father.
Psalm 103 says:
As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him and he knows that we’re dust. We know that we have all sinned and all fallen short of His Righteousness and He recognizes that we will all fail in some aspect of the teaching I’ve been giving you today.
So, we need the grace of God and forgiveness and we remember David who said in Psalm 51:
Create in me a clean heart oh God renew a right spirit within me. And God is able to do that. He’s able to do it through the Blood of Jesus who died for us.
Finally, 1 John chapter 1 verse 5:
Praise God for the Blood of Jesus. Praise God that He’s able to put us right. And we thank God for his love for us which never fails and which goes on forever. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life in Jesus Christ, amen. Amen.