Does Jesus teach you not to honour your parents?


There’s just one scripture that I want to close with in which Jesus, apparently, tells us not to honour our parents. Sometimes this causes a bit of trouble and one of the books which I read recently by a Jewish man (Asher Norman) called ’26 reasons why Jews don’t believe in Jesus’ quotes this verse to say that Jesus actually told people to break the Commandments.

Let’s have a look at it and see what the scripture says. Luke chapter 14 verse 26:

26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. 27 And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.

Luke 14.26-27

So does that say the opposite of what I’ve just been saying? Did Jesus actually tell you to hate your father and mother? I see a few people shaking their heads.

Jesus, on at least three occasions in the Gospels, affirms the 5th Commandment that you should honour your father and mother. So, what did He mean by this?

Sometimes, the use of the word ‘hate’ in the Bible actually means to ‘prefer’ or to ‘consider something more important than something else’.

In this case, if a person is coming to faith in Jesus, quite often, they’ll face opposition. The first line of opposition will come from their family, especially, if they come from another religion, from another faith, and this opposition may come from the father and the mother.

If you come through to faith in Jesus from another religion, particularly think of Judaism or Islam, you’ll be told by your family and especially by your parents that you are betraying your family, your ancestors, and that you are a traitor to your people.

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You may be kicked out of the family, you may even have an attempt on your life, especially if you come from an Islamic background.

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What Jesus is saying here is that the Kingdom of God comes first over family loyalty, especially in the case of religion. In fact, if you think about it, most people follow a religion because their parents followed it.

99.9% of the people who believe in any religion whether it’s Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism do it because their parents did it. They may not actually believe it or understand it but they follow it because that’s what their family does. If you become a Christian and you’re born again, then you’re going to be going against that whole tradition and you may face real opposition.

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Jesus is saying here seek first the kingdom of God. The priority has to be your commitment to Jesus Christ and if it causes offence to your family that is something you’re going to have to live with. Don’t make it more offensive than it needs to be, but put Christ, put the Kingdom of God first. And, if your family tries to stop you from following Jesus, then follow Jesus, not what your family says.

I guess any of us who come from a non-Christian background may have experienced some opposition from our parents.

Faith Survey | Christianity in the UK

Even my parents, who were Church of England, when I became a born-again Christian and I started talking about Jesus, they thought I’d joined some weird cult, because, people in their Christian circles never did that.

When I got baptized especially, they said ‘that’s like you’re denying what we gave you, because you were baptized as a baby‘.

I said, ‘Well, I had to be baptized on confession by faith‘.

And it was all a bit difficult to begin with, especially when they arranged for me to go and have a talk with a vicar, and they hoped that the vicar would ‘sort me out’.

I discussed it with the vicar and he said: ‘So, what are you talking about ‘being saved‘?

I said ‘Well, according to Ephesians, by grace you’re saved. Just read this in Paul’s letter‘.

He said, ‘Don’t give us Paul’s letters. I don’t believe all that.’

Then, I went home and we had a meal around the table and my sister was there who was actually being confirmed under this vicar,

And I said ‘the vicar’s not a Christian‘. At which point my parents said ‘You really flipped! You’ve lost the plot totally! How could the vicar not be a Christian? Don’t say that, because you’re upsetting your sister. He’s her spiritual advisor.

So, I said, ‘Well, that’s what I’m worried about.

And they really thought I’d joined some weird cult until we got married in All Saints, an Anglican church, and that sort of seemed to smooth things over.

Now it’s okay. I mean, we didn’t have any problems with it, but the problem exists even when you come from a nominal Christian background.

Faith Survey | Christianity in the UK

It’s much worse if you come from a Jewish background or you come from a Muslim background. You’ll inevitably be told that you have betrayed your people, that you’ve gone against what you’re supposed to do and that you may be kicked out and have difficulties. Survey | Christianity in the UK

Jesus said you’ve got to carry your cross and follow me. Take up your cross and seek first the Kingdom of God.

So, put your loyalty in God first, above loyalty to parents, but also, even in that situation, still keep that Commandment to honour your father and mother and seek reconciliation, seek their salvation, and seek to be a good child to your parents.

In conclusion, even the best of parents fail in some ways, and all children, in some ways, fail to honour their father and mother. That’s the problem of the sin nature which is actually why the 10 Commandments are revealed to us show a way out which is to repent and believe the Gospel, to believe in Jesus, and to come back to our loving heavenly Father.

Psalm 103 says:

8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. 9 He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever. 10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; 12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father pities his children, So the Lord pities those who fear Him. 14 For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.

Psalm 103. 8-14

As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him and he knows that we’re dust. We know that we have all sinned and all fallen short of His Righteousness and He recognizes that we will all fail in some aspect of the teaching I’ve been giving you today.

So, we need the grace of God and forgiveness and we remember David who said in Psalm 51:

Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. 4 Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight— That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge. 5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me. 6 Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom. 7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. 9 Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit. 13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You. 14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, The God of my salvation, And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.

Psalm 51. 1-14

Create in me a clean heart oh God renew a right spirit within me. And God is able to do that. He’s able to do it through the Blood of Jesus who died for us.

Finally, 1 John chapter 1 verse 5:

5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 

1 John 1.5-9

Praise God for the Blood of Jesus. Praise God that He’s able to put us right. And we thank God for his love for us which never fails and which goes on forever. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life in Jesus Christ, amen. Amen.