To be Jesus’ disciple, we must love him more than our family or ourselves.
INTRODUCTION TO THE TEXT
General Douglas MacArthur:
And 20 years after, on the other side of the globe, again the filth of murky foxholes, the stench of ghostly trenches, the slime of dripping dugouts; those boiling suns of relentless heat, those torrential rains of devastating storms; the loneliness and utter desolation of jungle trails; the bitterness of long separation from those they loved and cherished; the deadly pestilence of tropical disease; the horror of stricken areas of war; their resolute and determined defense, their swift and sure attack, their indomitable purpose, their complete and decisive victory — always victory. Always through the bloody haze of their last reverberating shot, the vision of gaunt, ghastly men reverently following your password of: DUTY, HONOR, COURAGE.
The code which those words perpetuate embraces the highest moral laws and will stand the test of any ethics or philosophies ever promulgated for the uplift of mankind. Its requirements are for the things that are right, and its restraints are from the things that are wrong. The soldier, above all other men, is required to practice the greatest act of religious training — sacrifice. In battle and in the face of danger and death, he discloses those divine attributes which his Maker gave when he created man in his own image. No physical courage and no brute instinct can take the place of the Divine help which alone can sustain him. However horrible the incidents of war may be, the soldier who is called upon to offer and to give his life for his country is the noblest development of mankind.
Duty, honor, courage. This password of MacArthur’s amazing service leads to the greater service for our God. Duty, honor, and courage demand our sacrifice. Just as MacArthur lead men who left their homes for great purposes. Jesus leads us for the greatest cause—the Gospel. This, the greatest cause, demands the greatest sacrifice.
DISCUSSION OF THE TEXT
Confessing Our Love for God—Matthew 10:26-33
The text falls into a section of Scripture that frames Jesus’ discussion to not fear the suffering that will come by being a Christian. In Matthew 10:26 Jesus said to “have no fear of them.” In verse 28 he said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Christians aren’t to fear the consequences of being a Christian because we can rejoice in the benefits of being a Christian. Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31).
Jesus gave us the two options for life: “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33). To acknowledge God before men is to love him before everything else. That means we must love God more than we love ourselves. It also means that we must love God more than our family.
Loving God More Than Self—Matthew 10:24-25
There are only two options: we can confess our love for God or we can deny our love for God. Jesus warned those who would follow him that discipleship would be a sacrifice. In Matthew 10:24-25, Jesus said, “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of those Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.”
Many Christians want to be Christians to “live their best life now.” Jesus said that you will suffer in this life if you truly become his disciple. Look at the suffering predicted for Jesus’ disciples in Matthew 10. Jesus said, “I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles.” (Matthew 10:16-18). Jesus said, “Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put ot death, and you will be hated by all for my names sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10: 21-23). Suffering will find Jesus’ disciples.
Even though suffering comes, the disciples of Christ must put Jesus above themselves. In Matthew 10:24, Jesus said “a disciple is not above (ὑπὲρ) his teacher.” The word ὑπὲρ means above. It even sounds like our English word upper (ὑπὲρ). Jesus said, he must be upper and we must be lower. Hebrews 12:3-4 encourages us to keep Jesus at the top saying: “For consider him who endured such hostility from sinners against himself, so that you won’t grow weary and give up. In struggling against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” The time may come when we are given the privilege of shedding blood for Jesus.
For now, we need to practice by making sure Jesus doesn’t come below other things. What comes first, Jesus or relaxing? Jesus or a few extra dollars? Jesus or easy retirement? Jesus or travel? If we don’t place Jesus above these things, how will ever put Jesus above great temptations?
Loving God More Than Family—Matthew 10:36-37
Once we learn to put Jesus above ourselves, we also realize that Jesus must come above our family. Jesus said, “And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Jesus used the same word ὑπὲρ that sounds like upper in verse 37. Our translators translate it “more than” and that is a good translation. But it does loose the connection with verses 24-25. Just as we must put Jesus above self, we must put Jesus above family. We must love (φιλῶν) Jesus more than family. It is important to note that Jesus used the word φιλῶν or brotherly love. A love built over time in a relationship. Jesus said we must φιλῶν develop a loving relationship with him ὑπὲρ above every other relationship (even our relationship with our self).
What does it look like when we love Jesus more than our family? It depends. We know what it looks like when someone loves their family more than Jesus. When a child refuses to obey Jesus because of what their mother or father believed, who do they love more? When a parent refuses to believe the truth about ______ because their child now believes that error or is practicing that sin. When an individual refuses to stand for Jesus when the family demands that take a seat. Remember, Jesus said we must love him more than mother, father, son, or daughter.
APPLICATION OF THE TEXT
Is Jesus above all in your life? Loving Jesus may demand we leave our homes and everyone in them. Jesus said, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields because of my name will receive a hundred times more and will inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:29). Jesus said, “Whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:38-39). Take up your cross. Make the sacrifice. Take your stand. Follow Jesus.
Before we decide that leaving family for Jesus is too great a sacrifice, we need to think about the sacrifice he made for us. Jesus left home. He left the Father’s side. He left the Holy Spirit. He left the adoration of the angelic host. He left his eternal home to suffer as a sinner for a little while. He left the comfort of home to die as a ransom for those who ran away from home. But then Jesus went back home. He is home right now. He is interceding and mediating for the saints. He is waiting for sinners to be saved by his sacrifice. One day he is coming back so he can bring us home. We can be home with Jesus because he put us above heaven and because we put heaven above all else.