In Matthew 14: 26 (NASB) Jesus declares some shocking words:


   “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.


   What’s going on here! Isn’t Jesus guilty of (an American) hate crime in a fit of passionate extremism?


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   Before one gets caught up in a righteous, indignant, contemporary bumper sticker mentality, and start burning Bibles, one needs to consider the age-old literary device of hyperbole. The Bible and our lives are full of expressions that were never intended to be taken strictly literally.

   Let me number a few observations (as is our habit in “dozenseconding):

   (1)  “I will love you forever” in the most fulfilling and faithful of circumstances is never strictly accurate or possible. Even in the heavenly hereafter the Bible declares that there is no marriage in Heaven. There will be plenty of love, however, of a type that’s beyond our comprehension and far beyond the best passionate Earth practices with the dearest partners and friends.

   (2)  Abraham, while childless, was prophetically told that he would have descendants as “numerous as grains of sand on the seashore.” I “doubt” that is literally meant¹.

   (3)  And while God knows the “number of hairs” on everyone’s head (easy when looking at me), the point is something more than logging a total hair count.

   (4)  Now as to comparing love of one person to the hating of others:  God clearly teaches the importance of loving others in many places in the Bible. Even the underlining the loving of others as one loves oneself. The point, it seems, in the passage cited is that since we are creatures of passion–created in the image of God–the strength of our love for God should be so strong, or strongly focused, toward Him as we now see the energy of hate, or that it should exceed any other affection we express to others around us².


   ¹ God, forgive me if I’m being short-sighted here.

   ² See above note.