DISCIPLESHIP COMES FIRST

“Lord, let me go and bury my father first.” –Matthew 8:21

Jesus would not allow a potential disciple to first bury his father. Many Scripture scholars have commented that this man’s father had not yet died, and so anyone who wishes to be Jesus’ disciple must renounce all His possessions, including a potential inheritance (see Lk 14:33). Elsewhere, Jesus said that if anyone comes to Him without hating his father and mother, that person cannot be His disciple (see Lk 14:26, RNAB).

Hate is a strong word. In the language of Jesus’ time, there were no words to express the concept of loving more and loving less. The only words in that language were to love or to not love, that is, hate. For a disciple, loving Jesus comes first. All other relationships by comparison seem to be hateful.

Jesus criticizes some scribes and Pharisees for refusing to support their aging parents by pretending to dedicate their finances to God as ‘korban’ while actually using that money for their own interests (see Mk 7:11). That kind of shifty practice is indeed hating one’s parents, but that’s not the kind of “hate” Jesus calls His disciples to practice.

When Elisha asked to say farewell to his parents, Elijah permitted it. Elisha kissed his parents goodbye and followed Elijah (1 Kgs 19:19-21). Elisha proved his total commitment to being Elijah’s disciple by slaughtering his oxen and chopping up his wooden plow for fuel to cook the oxen to serve the meat to his people (1 Kgs 19:21). Thereby, Elisha had no way to return to farming; he was totally committed.

Jesus calls us to be His disciples. Any possessions Jesus permits us to keep are then used completely to serve Him. There is no turning back. Following Jesus as His disciple comes first.

PRAYER: Lord, may I love as You love without counting the cost.

“To him that goes the right way I will show the salvation of God.”–Ps 50:23

PRAISE: St. Cyril defended Jesus’ divine and human natures.

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