‘If you want to see how true a man really is, don’t only see how much effort he puts into loving his own family; look further, see how much effort he puts into things which does not benefit him such as loving his enemies, even the enemies who hate his own family as Lord Jesus Christ Did, is Doing & Will Do. Can you see it?’ – Anonymous
“Behold, I have discovered this,” says the Preacher, “adding one thing to another to find an explanation, which I am still seeking but have not found.
I have found one [upright] man among a thousand, but I have not found a woman among all these.
“Behold, I have found only this, that God made men upright, but they have sought out many devices.” (Ecclesiastes 7:27 – 29, NASB)
Two Cases – Same Message
“And He [Lord Jesus Christ] said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But He [Lord Jesus Christ] said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:59 – 60, NASB)
“Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:61 – 62, NASB)
The two sets of verses (Luke 9:59 – 60 & Luke 9:61 – 62) speak the ‘same’ message namely that, nothing is more important than ‘preaching the kingdom of God’, yes, ‘not’ even family.
A simple reason is that taking care of family would be beneficial to the family members only and is limited to this life only. It does not prolong or affect anything into the afterlife.
Lord Jesus Christ is not saying that we should not take care of our families (1 Timothy 5:8) but rather that it does not take precedence over the preaching of the Gospel especially when these two things come into conflict (Context of Matthew 10:34 – 39).
Yes, here’s a rarely understood ‘proper context’ with ‘consecutive verses’ with regards to this: losing one’s life (Matthew 10:39) especially in the first (direct) context of ‘family life’ (Matthew 10:37) for the sake of ‘following Him’ (Matthew 10:38) is what is meant when it is written that the one who loses his life on earth will gain it in the afterlife and vice versa if otherwise (implied in Matthew 10:39).
Further, ‘taking care of family’ is an example of ‘loving those who love you’ (Matthew 5:46) which is good but it’s not as great as it is often ‘overly-celebrated’ among men (Luke 16:15).
The real question (as implied in Matthew 5:43 – 45) is whether are we able to extend ‘such good equally’ (with ‘no’ bias or favoritism) toward our ‘neighbours’ (Matthew 5:43) and even our ‘enemies’ (Matthew 5:44) including the ‘evil & unrighteous ones’ too (Matthew 5:45) as the Perfection of the Father in the Heavens is such (Matthew 5:48).
This is Mature Theology (Hebrews 5:14) and Lord Jesus Christ is Revealing it in the Gospels (John 1:17, John 1:14) and Proved it on His Cross (Luke 23:34) especially in light of Saving the World (1 John 4:14) with regards to including His Enemies too (since Reconciliation is only needed for some form of enmity, Colossians 1:20).
Here are some simple questions to understand this better:
Would you consider your mother equal to another’s mother or assume that your mother is the best? Is your reason for this based on ‘personal bias’ (such as blood-relations) or even due to the fact that ‘you received much from her’?
Would you reward the ‘same’ gift to your mother and another’s mother or would you reward your mother more since she has done more good to you? Thus your love for your mother is deep because it is relative to the ‘blood connection’ you have (bias) and because ‘she did good to you first’ (measuring love based on what we can receive) and is clearly a case of ‘loving a person (e.g. a mother) who loves you’.
Lord Jesus Christ challenges us to go further —-> even to ‘love our enemies’ (Matthew 5:44) as He leads by Example even Reconciling them beyond this life (Colossians 1:20, 2 Corinthians 5:19), post Judgment too (1 Peter 4:5 – 6) via His Great Mercy which Triumphs over (or ends) any afterlife Judgment Sentence as well’ (James 2:13).
The ‘only sword’ Christ said that He would bring on earth (Matthew 10:34) is not a ‘sword for war in killing other human beings’ (e.g. the ‘error of the crusades’, Matthew 26:52) as we do ‘not struggle (fight) against flesh and blood, i.e. other human beings’ (Ephesians 6:12).
Then, what is the ‘sword’ which Christ says He brings on the Earth (Matthew 10:34)?
Holy Scripture clearly answers this in ‘consecutive verses’ following the verse above (context) —> to mean that —-> this ‘sword’ is ‘enmity within a family’ (Matthew 10:35 – 36) —-> but only with regards to the Gospel (e.g. we have family members who want to stop us from preaching the Truth of the Gospel or those family members who try to hinder us from believing/practicing the Gospel) as the context of Mathew 10:37 – 39 clearly states! (with ‘no’ twisting from any interpretation of ‘any kind’).
Thus we clearly see that Christ exhorts us to put the Gospel first even above family concerns simply because it’s selfless (beyond family or blood-relation love only) —-> and the Gospel affects into the afterlife (1 Peter 4:6) —-> the Gospel affects all creation too (Mark 16:15, Romans 8:20 – 21).
Hence those who put the Gospel first are certainly doing the ‘Will of God’ and thus these form a ‘true selfless family’ (Mark 3:33 – 35) which are not connected by ‘blood, creed, common interest, business pledges, political alliances, race, religion or other things’ but the ‘Will of God only’ (John 1:12 – 13, Mark 3:35).
Thus, to keep the Gospel’s Truth with us or limit the ‘Preaching of It’ (2 Timothy 4:2) to only as much as our family constraints allow (by making those earthly matters a precedence) only displays ‘our selfishness’ with regards to ‘putting things which matter to us first as a priority’ which is certainly not a trait of maturity (Hebrews 5:14).
What is the reward for such selfless preaching of the Gospel (context of Matthew 19:27)? Please consider Christ’s Reply in Matthew 19:28 – 30:
“Then Peter answering said to him, ‘Lo, we did leave all, and follow thee, what then shall we have?’
And Jesus said to them, ‘Verily I say to you, that ye who did follow me, in the regeneration, when the Son of Man may sit upon a throne of his glory, shall sit — ye also — upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel;
and every one who left houses, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or fields, for my name’s sake, an hundredfold shall receive, and life age-during shall inherit;
and many first shall be last, and last first.” – Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 19:27 – 30, YLT)
Are we able to understand these ‘verses’?
P/S: List of verses quoted in the above mentioned below from various translations (for easy reference):
“But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” – apostle Paul (1 Timothy 5:8, NASB)
“Do not think that I came to bring peace to the earth; I came not to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set at variance
‘A man against his father,
and a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law,
and the enemies of the man are his own household.” – Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 10:34 – 36, BLB)
“The one loving father or mother above Me is not worthy of Me, and the one loving son or daughter above Me is not worthy of Me.
And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.
The one having found his life will lose it, and the one having lost his life on account of Me will find it.” – Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 10:37 – 39, BLB)
“For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (Matthew 5:46, NASB)
“And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.” – Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 16:15, NASB)
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those persecuting you,
so that you may be sons of your Father in the heavens. For He makes His sun rise on evil and good, and He sends rain on righteous and unrighteous.” – Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 5:43 – 45, BLB)
“You shall be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” – Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 5:48, BLB)
“But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” (Hebrews 5:14, NASB)
“For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17, BLB)
“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14, NASB)
“But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.” (Luke 23:34, NASB)
“We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.” – apostle John (1 John 4:14, NASB)
“and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace by the blood of His cross through Him, whether the things on the earth or the things in the heavens.” – apostle Paul (Colosians 1:20, BLB)
“namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” – apostle Paul (2 Corinthians 5:19, NASB)
“who will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.
For to this end the gospel was proclaimed even to the dead, so that they might be judged indeed according to men in the flesh, but they might live in the spirit according to God.” – apostle Peter (1 Peter 4:5 – 6, BLB)
“For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.” – apostle James (James 2:13, NASB)
“Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52, NASB)
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” – apostle Paul (Ephesians 6:12, NASB)
“And He [Lord Jesus Christ] said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:15, NASB)
“for to vanity was the creation made subject — not of its will, but because of Him who did subject [it] — in hope, that also the creation itself shall be set free from the servitude of the corruption to the liberty of the glory of the children of God;” – apostle Paul (Romans 8:20 – 21, YLT)
“Answering them, He [Lord Jesus Christ] said, “Who are My mother and My brothers?”
Looking about at those who were sitting around Him, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers!
“For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:33 – 35, NASB)
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,
who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” – apostle John (John 1:12 – 13, NASB)
“preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” – apostle Paul (2 Timothy 4:2, NASB)
“Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” – apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 1:20, NASB)
Last but not least,
Here’s an interesting note regarding James 2:13 which easily refutes any false claims of ‘context’ against it, please consider:
“For [afterlife] judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over [afterlife] judgment.” – apostle James (James 2:13, NASB)
Please note that in James 2:13, if the “judgment” in the first sentence “For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy” —-> refers to the [afterlife] Judgment —> then, the “judgment” in the second sentence “mercy triumphs over judgment” in this ‘same verse’ —-> must also refer to [afterlife Judgment] as well —-> with no twisting nor manipulations of any kind. Can you see it?
“The next day John [the Baptist] saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” – apostle John (John 1:29, NIV)
‘Where are the verses for your claim?’ – Anonymous