“If Anyone Comes to Me and Does Not Hate”…

“If Anyone Comes to Me and Does Not Hate”…

Jesus said and did many powerful/miraculous, loving, things that clearly set Him apart from every other “god” and everyone who has ever lived. Many of His self-identifying proclamations are recorded in the Gospel of John. Here are seven of His “I Am” statements:

  1. “I am the bread of life.” (John 6:35, 41, 48, 51) As bread sustains physical life, so Christ offers and sustains spiritual life.
  2.  “I am the light of the world.” (John 8:12) To a world lost in darkness, Christ offers Himself as a guide.
  3. “I am the door of the sheep.” (John 10:7,9) Jesus protects His followers as shepherds protect their flocks from predators.
  4. “I am the resurrection and the life.” (John 11:25) Death is not the final word for those in Christ.
  5. “I am the good shepherd.” (John 10:11, 14) Jesus is committed to caring for and watching over those who are His.
  6. “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) Jesus is the source of all truth and knowledge about God.
  7. “I am the true vine.” (John 15:1, 5) By attaching ourselves to Christ, we enable His life to flow in and through us. Then we cannot help but bear fruit that will honor the Father.

(Jesus’ seven “I Am” statements from ThomasNelsonBible.com)

In each of His declarations, Jesus tells His present (and future) listeners, that He is The Bread, The Light, The Resurrection, The Life, The Way, The Truth, The Vine. He is not claiming to be ‘a’ light, or ‘a’ way, or ‘a’ truth. He is declaring complete exclusivity; as the One and Only true God.

Challenging, Offensive?

Besides the powerful things Jesus said and did that set Him apart, He also challenged His followers – calling them/us to a higher, holier way of life – that would set us apart from the world and then point them to Jesus as our Source of all good things – here on earth, and the life to come.

To show how deadly a life of sin is to the eternal soul, Jesus told His Disciples (Matthew 5:29-30) if their right eye or right hand caused them to sin, they should gouge it out/cut it off.  He warned it was far better for one part of their body to be destroyed than for their whole body to be thrown into hell.

 In John 6, Jesus points to His coming sacrifice on the Cross, as He declares, “I am the bread of life/the living bread, which I will give for the life of the world.”

Such an uproar was caused as He goes on to say, “My flesh is real food and My blood is real drink” (and necessary for eternal life) – that many of His disciples (offended?) left and stopped walking with Him (John 6: 48-66).

We know in the verses above, Jesus is not talking about self-mutilation, cannibalism, nor vampirism, but is stressing the vital importance of fleeing from the ravages of sin (Matthew 5) and receiving His forgiveness (confess with your mouth, believe in your heart… Romans 10:9) as His body (flesh) was broken and His blood poured out, as a ransom for our sins (John 6).

The Love Test

Consider these questions:

  1. Who was your first love?
  2. Who do you love more than anyone in the world?
  3. Who is the one person you want to see most, when you go to heaven?

If you’re like me, you might have had a different answer for each of these questions. But God’s Word through and through says we are to love Him first (above every other person or thing) and, with ALL our hearts.

It wasn’t until recently that I realized, every time I talked or thought about my “first love,” my thoughts turned to my first boyfriend. Then one morning while in prayer, the Holy Spirit reminded me about the verse in Revelation 2: 4-5 when Jesus tells the church of Ephesus they have forsaken Him (…”you have lost your first love“) and should repent.

After I recovered from the shock of finding out I had yet another ‘idol’ in my heart/life! (see my 4/30/17 post), I realized how less a love I had been cherishing above the One who: choose me before the foundations of the earth, calls me by my name, will NEVER leave me nor forsake me, and loved me unto His death (and forevermore), as demonstrated – on The Cross!

But, as Jesus tells us – the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth – I can now truly say, I have never known a greater love than Jesus.

A Greater/Higher Love

Let’s see what else Jesus has to say about the state and Object of our affections in the two verses below.

“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. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.  Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 10: 37-39)

“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be My disciple.  And whoever does not carry their cross and follow Me cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26-27).

Did I read that first verse in Matthew right? …loves father, mother, son, daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. How about the second verse in Luke, did I get that right? …hate father, mother, wife, children… carry their cross…

Well, yes. But the keywords in Matthew are “more than Me.” And in Luke, the word “hate” means to love less and does not imply evil contempt, as the usual use of the word would.

First Place

Jesus, by position of God of all creation, breath of life (Genesis 2:7), Savior of the world, demands (by invitation, not by force) first place in our hearts and lives. Nothing will ever fulfill our life purpose more completely than loving/following Jesus. No one, will ever love us deeper, heal all the broken places in our hearts, or secure heaven as a perfect sacrifice – for everyone who will choose to love Him more than anyone else.

Only Jesus, the great I AM, who left heaven and set Himself apart from every other “god,” and everyone who has ever lived, is worthy to ask and receive from us – our lives set apart – in love for Him.

Jesus Is the Answer

I pray “Jesus” is your answer to all three questions above. If not, maybe you, like me, need some time to pray and open your heart to God’s Holy Spirit.

If you have any questions or would like prayer about this subject of Jesus first in your heart and life, please feel free to let me know.

Even if you disagree with me about anything I’ve said, I’d still welcome the chance to talk to you (and/or pray with you) and hear what you have to say.

Shalom, in Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s