37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. 40 “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”
“Gentle Jesus meek and mild”? I don’t think so. He brings things into sharp focus, into high contrast. There‘s no beige with Jesus. If I’m not for him, I’m against him. If I’m not in the kingdom, I’m out.
Jesus has just been telling his disciples that every nation will hate them because of him. Brother will betray brothers, fathers children, children their parents.
Now he focuses on what I should do in response.
He gives an apparent contradiction: if I give up my life (to Jesus) I’ll gain eternal life, but if I cling to my life (love it more than Jesus) I will lose it.
If I love Jesus’ enemies more than I love Jesus, I am literally “out of balance” (anaxios) with him, which gets translated as “not worthy”. (All my real worth is given to me by God as he makes me his son.)
In the same way that my life is only safe if I give it to him, I’ve found that the relationships with people I love are only safe if I give them to him. I can love my wife best by loving Jesus first. It sounds crazy but it’s true. As we each love Jesus first, our love for each other becomes deeper and more profound than it ever could have been separate from him.
And the flip side of this holds too: as I love the people who love Jesus, my relationship with him grows deeper.
Jesus, I do love you. I love you first. I give you my life, and I give you the dearest relationships to me. There are people I love who oppose you, but I give them to you too, and I desperately want them to become yours.
Written by David Cornell