THE Lord said to His disciples, "Everyone who acknowledges Me before others, I also will acknowledge before My Father in heaven, but whoever denies Me before others, I also will deny before My Father in heaven. 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. And whoever does not take up the cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me."
Then Peter said in reply, “Look, we have left everything and followed You. What then will we have?” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for My Name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first."
"Everyone who acknowledges Me before others..."
The word translated here as "acknowledge" can also be translated as "agree," "admit," "confess" (literally "to say the same as"), "accept as true."
So, what are we acknowledging, what are we agreeing with Jesus, admitting, confessing? First of all, that Jesus Christ is our God and Savior, Who came into the world, became man, in order to suffer and die and resurrect for our sake, in other words - to save us.
And the reading for this Sunday offers us some more details about confessing Christ. "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."
Strong words. Harsh words. Right?
Yes, these are harsh words if Jesus Christ is not our God and Savior. If He is just an ideology, a cute story, an event in history, then it is an absolute madness to choose an ideology over our family. This is why, before we acknowledge, confess, agree with Christ, we must decide Who Christ is for us. And this is not an easy task. People can spend lifetimes looking for the answer to this question. At the same time, a lifetime spent in searching will lead to an answer.
Christians, the Church, has always confessed Christ to be our God and Savior. With this confession in mind, Jesus' words about loving Him more than father or mother or son or daughter make sense.
Before I proceed, we must notice that Christ is not saying, "Hate the closest people to you, otherwise you are not worthy of Me." He specifically says, "Anyone who loves their relatives more than Me, is not worthy of Me." That's an important distinction.
We know that there are sins and temptations that literally pull us away from God, away from His communion. That is why we confess our sins, that is why confession is called reconciliation with God. There can even be things and people that pull us away from God, or stand between us and Him. What the Lord is saying in this passage is that, even if, the closest people in our life prevent us from following Him, then the choice should always be Christ over anyone else.
And more specifically, Christ says whoever loves others more than Him, is not worthy of Him. The concept of love has become romanticized and sexualized. Love is not just about sex. The ultimate expression of love is self-sacrifice - the ability to put others ahead of ourselves.
Whoever loves their relatives more than Christ, whoever is ready to put their relatives, to self-sacrifice for them, ahead of Christ, is not worthy of Him. Why? Because He put us ahead of Himself, and died for us the most horrible death.
"...I also will acknowledge before My Father in heaven."
When we confess Christ before others, Christ will know to confess us, to acknowledge us and agree with us before His Heavenly Father. Peter even asks Christ, "Listen, we literally left everything behind to follow You, what will we get?"
The promise is not a small one - "Those who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for My Name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life."
Those who put Christ ahead of everyone else, will not only inherit eternal life, and receive a hundredfold compared to what they give up for His sake, but they will also judge the twelve tribes of Israel! Meaning, they will sit next to Christ on the Great Day of Judgment and judge everyone.
May we confess and acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ before others, so that He will acknowledge us before His Father.
Your in the Lord,
Father Aleksey - your friendly Singac priest