Dr. of Christian Studies – The Four Gospels from the ULC Seminary
By Rev. Judith Lictenberger
"Whoever prefers father or mother over me is not worthy of me and whoever prefers son or daughter over me is not worthy of me..." from THE GOOD WORD ACCORDING TO MATTHEW/ THE UNVARNISHED GOSPELS , Matthew 10. In comparison, and it is just the translation not the concept that changes: "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me..." from the King James Version, Matthew 10: 37. You can almost feel the atmosphere change..It doesn't matter which one of the many denominations of Christianity- in my search for a spiritual home, I've been to them all!
These words from Matthew 10 elicit the same reaction: confusion, dismay and "I wish they would have picked something different..." "He that loveth his father and his mother more than me is not worthy of me." Well maybe. There are all kind of parents in this world. It is my opinion that each must be worthy of respect before honor even enters the picture. Thank God that the world has changed in that respect and people, little ones and big ones, have become a little more discerning.
Jesus, raised on the 10 Commandments with Mary as His Mom and God as His Dad. ? Think about it, Jesus, there's no way out about this one! "He that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." Now, Jesus is talking about your KIDS and we are thinking about how to interpret a disturbing utterance. Let's look at Jesus' time. From a disciple's point of view- some were fathers, I am sure. Some were husbands. Jesus asked difficult sacrifices from these men. They had to leave their families and journey into many unwelcome places. Sure, He performed miracles which were a little scarey and asked them to accept Him as the Saviour prophesized to come from the lineage of David.
He asked them to believe that He was the son of God. These men had not known Him for an overly long period of time even when it was time for Him to make the ultimate sacrifice. Jesus also sounded a little crazy and He never told you anything in a straight forward manner. These "parables" were difficult to grasp. A few of the disciples would probably rather be fishing with their kids- for FISH!
Life in those times was hard enough but at least, in a normal family, your children looked up to you. I've never been a Dad but I could not imagine that good fathers just leave their families unless it's to find work. Traveling with Jesus must have seemed irresponsible. If you were able to make a visit home, you arrived there empty-handed. Your wife may have been angry and your children may have been sad. Was it worth it? No one knows for sure. Let's leave that ancient world for now.
We find ourselves sitting in church. We hear this scripture being read and remember that there are three like-minded ideas presented in the book of Matthew. Loving God more than your own off-spring? Let's be more specific who "we" are sitting in that crowded church pew. You are a Mom and you are a brand new Christian, trying very hard to live your life as God instructed. You want to be a good example for your daughter.. You're all that she has... Now you're thinking: "Well, that's just great! My daughter was so sick when she was born that it's a miracle that she started school this year. She was so tiny and so strong. I thank God every day that she can walk and talk and that she forgot her show and tell on Friday. I love her more than my own life! Now I can't even get to Heaven . Didn't Mary love Jesus that much? I just don't understand."
The lady sitting next to you is shifting around uncomfortably (yeh, it bothered her too), looking for something in her pocketbook. (Probably a weapon...C'mon Lady, we're gonna take that Pastor out! Only kidding.) Wait! It's a hard question but I refuse to believe that God who saved my little girl and gave me a new outlook , who loved ALL His children meant that to follow Him, I have to leave everything behind, especially my beautiful little miracle child. I haven't learned enough about the Bible yet to say it with authority but maybe Jesus wanted us to trust Him in everything, to let Him make a plan for our lives, to let God be the GOOD parent and comfort us in this evil, confusing world.
Uh oh! The Sunday School teacher is bringing my little girl down the aisle to me. She's crying uncontrollably. "What's wrong, honey?" The teacher smiles. "It's O.K. First day in Bible class. Another kid hid the crayons. She just misses her Mom." I hug her and the lady next to me pulls a tissue from the "suspicious" handbag. Something to think about.
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