Podcast Reflections

Reflection on Luke 14.25-33 (4 before Advent: Wednesday)

Listen to a reflection for 4 before Advent: Wednesday, 2 November 2022, on Luke 14.25-33

Luke 14.25-33
The Cost of Discipleship

Large crowds were travelling with Jesus; and he turned and said to them, ‘Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, “This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.” Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.’


We live in a world that seems to be filled with hate. Despite the hope expressed in phrases such as ‘A war to end all wars’, there are still so many places in this world that are blighted with the anger, exploitation and oppression which inevitably leads to violence and warfare. The naked aggression of individual leaders can be seen everywhere, including those countries we might instinctively consider to be ‘civilized’! It is that aggression that, so often, lies at the heart of the hatred which gives rise to man’s inhumanity towards man!

In today’s reading we find Jesus speaking of ‘hate’. He is not speaking in general terms, in a way that distances us from its reality. Rather, Jesus is speaking of hate between those whom we might consider to be nearest and dearest to us, those in our own families. Such teaching is difficult and demands that we pause and reflect upon what Jesus is really saying.

In modern English, the word ‘hate’ has become an expression associated with a repulsion that can easily translate itself into violence. That is not what Jesus is saying, however. Jesus is really speaking about love. This may seem a strange thing to say, but it is true. Jesus is speaking about how much we love God. He is urging us to commit ourselves to follow his teaching, the teaching which leads to a closer relationship with God, a relationship that should be stronger even than those we have within our own families. This is a very different perspective on the word ‘hate’.

Jesus is teaching us to set aside the calculations we make on a daily basis in order that we might make the most profit out of every situation and relationship we encounter in our lives. Instead, Jesus is teaching us to place God ahead of everyone and everything else. As we translate the Gospel narrative into modern English we find ourselves limited in many of the words we can use. The original Greek translates literally into ‘hate’, but its meaning is far more subtle than we understand on a day-to-day basis. Let us acknowledge that subtlety and let us pray that we might be strong enough to put God before all else in our lives. Let us pray that instead of weighing up the odds, we might simply trust in our creator God, the heavenly Father who loves us more than we can imagine.