Last edited on 13/Apr/2023
37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. — Jesus Christ (Matthew 10:37–38, ESVUK)
In this Bible passage, Jesus makes one of the most extraordinary claims in the whole Bible. He said that unless we love him above everything else in this world, and are willing to suffer and even lay down our lives for his sake, we are not worthy of him. Let’s discuss the two main reasons why this is so extraordinary.
Love Jesus More Than Anything
The first, is that Jesus expects us to prioritise him over our loved ones in our family. Under normal circumstances, everyone would consider their family their top priority. They’re the ones whom we care for more than anyone else, whom we spend the most time with, and whom we desire to protect and cherish above all. In this Scripture passage, Jesus teaches us that our love for him must exceed even that. If all we do is simply hold Jesus in high esteem, try and live like he did, or love him less than other important things in life, then we’re not worthy of him. In order to be worthy of Jesus, we must love him more than anything else, and consider him the most important person in our lives.
Jesus Spoke As God
Furthermore, prophets, priests, or angels wouldn’t command us to love them more than anything, but would rather point to God, because there is no one greater than him. Jesus, however, pointed to himself, because he is the greatest being in existence, the one whom we follow, devote our lives to, and live for (2 Corinthians 5:14–15). Jesus is God in flesh (John 1:1, 14); therefore, by his very nature alone, he deserves our full devotion, love, and worship. As the Psalmist said: “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you” (Psalm 73:25).
Love and Follow Jesus Even in Suffering
The second reason, is that we need to be willing to live according to Jesus’ teachings, and stand firm as his disciples against all troubles and challenges to the very end. Taking one’s cross—referring to death by crucifixion—is an expression that Jesus sometimes uses. It means that we must be willing to follow Jesus even to the point of suffering and death. The emphasis here is that our eternal relationship with Christ is far more valuable than our temporary, earthly lives. Many people may question the idea of following a teacher when they know they will be persecuted and undergo hardships because of it, and conclude that it’s just not worth it. However, if we’re willing to let suffering or death deter us from following Jesus and staying as his disciples to the very end, then we’re not worthy of him.
Jesus Understands That We Cannot Be Perfect
The bottom line is that if you have more important things in life than Jesus, or you aren’t willing to suffer, or die for his name’s sake, then you’re not worthy of him, and don’t have eternal life dwelling within you. To be Jesus’ disciple means that you surrender your entire body and soul to him, that you live under his rule as the sovereign Lord of your life (Jude 4), and rely on him alone as your personal Saviour (Titus 2:12–14), who died for your sins on the cross and rose again from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:3–4). We should want to be considered worthy of Jesus because he is God in flesh, the greatest being in existence. Jesus understands that we can’t be perfect, and he will forgive us if we believe in him and are truly sorry for our sins (1 John 1:9), but he does require us to love him more than anything, and to take up our crosses and follow him till the very end.