Tough Passages #18: Family Feud (Matthew 10:35-37)

Tough Passages #18: Family Feud (Matthew 10:35-37)

In “Tough Passages,” we’re looking at the difficult verses in the Bible that are often brought up by secular people as reasons the Bible doesn’t make sense, and discovering how they actually reveal the character, love, and glory of God in a beautiful way.  Last time, we talked about going the extra mile. Literally.  But this is our final foray into season 1 of Tough Passages, and it’s a doozy: does Jesus really say that we have to compete with our family for His love?

The Verse

For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 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.

Matthew 10:35-37, ESV

The Secular Response

So believing in God, according to the Bible, is like a life-or-death game of Family Double Dare, only instead of having color-coded teams it’s every man (woman and child) for themselves.

Ivana Wynn,

Our Reply

First century Israel was a distant place, but not an unrecognizable place. God’s people in that time were devout, hardworking, and deeply devoted to their families. Family was bound up with the land that they owned, and both were crucial for survival; the extended family, consisting of multiple households, formed a clan which worked the land together, helped one another through lean times, and protected one another; at its heart, these clans and the families which made them up were the building block of Israelite society, up through the life of Christ.

Further, God often worked and dealt with families as a unit, usually (though not always) through the father; the Old Testament patriarchs and their families made up the nation of Israel, and the lineage of Christ Himself came down through them. Even Jesus and His apostles dealt with families frequently, leading the men, women, children, servants, and extended family to saving faith all at once in the case of Lydia’s household.

So why did Jesus tell us it’s a battle for His love against our families?


Easy answer: He didn’t.

First of all, Jesus was speaking here to His disciples; twelve men who were among the first to know Jesus as the Son of God, to worship Him and sit under His teaching, and to see Him when He was raised from the dead. They were going to face some big opposition to their message, even from their families.

If you have a good relationship with your family, when they have concerns about your lifestyle, you tend to listen; and the concerns that Jesus’ disciples were going to be facing were deeply rooted in a Jewish belief system that believed those who turned from God would be losing their favor with God.

Then, as now, the followers of Jesus would be faced with opposition to following Christ as God—even from their families. And Jesus’ words are simple and blunt here: If you believe that I am worth worshiping and following as the God and Savior of the universe, you can’t follow your family when things get difficult.


I don’t think Scripture ever says it more explicitly than this: valuing your family more highly than Him is a form of idolatry, of valuing something lesser over God. If Jesus is the source of all life and salvation, if He is the source of eternal joy, if He is our only hope and power, then He is worth all our worship and praise; and God’s reward for that valuation is finding your life in Him.

And if your family isn’t coming with you on that mission, or if they’re trying to stop it…it’s not worth giving up that reward to have a little bit less strife around the dinner table.

This statement, originally spoken to the family-loving Israel, hits home when you realize that Jesus is saying “your most valuable institution isn’t worth anything compared to friendship with the Creator.”

Maybe you have a great family, and they all love the Lord; or maybe you just go to church to get away from your family. It’s not a competition. We don’t get points. But in valuing Jesus as the most valuable, we gain an eternal, joyful reward – and a huge family: Christians around you who worship together.

It’s not just a cool idea. It’s the way God made the world to work.

• • •

This is the end of Tough Passages: Season 1. Thanks for reading, and make sure you keep an eye out for the start of Season 2 in the future!

Thanks for reading Redeeming Culture; we hope you stick with us. If this isn’t a satisfying answer to you, please comment below. I’d love to talk it out.

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I appreciate tough passages like this & being able to some one confront them like this head on! I think its perfect for a time such as this! These are the signs that aren’t very far from a believer ! Its was always very curious to me & something I tried to prevent & saw happen anyway ?! Both in the generation before and now after. Neither of which were in the begining but always seemed to threaten a disconnect of some kind only in the end to reconcile with a love only that could be from Christ! Now like I said it’s using the title daughter’ here we go again! Have Mercy Jesus because now I’m older and getting tired! I know its not about me and in this I take refuge!Praise God for that!🌻His Battle Not Mine!Thankyou For Letting Me Share! Prayer Apreciated!🌻

Thsnk you, Its been so many family struggles. I’ve had to face, but no matter what’s going on in my life. With family or close friends. I focus on God. He’s the only source to help us all be delivered.

Family feuds. Mat 10:34-38 & Luke 14:25-33. To loose for Christ’s sake, it’s real. Even from Christian families where in your innocence you are convinced it will never happen. It happens. In spite & envy you are a pariah, they slander and indeed they cut you off. Those who never believed but are cosmetic when you overpower, your true spirit its “uselessness” is clear to them they despise you; they cut themselves off from you knowing full well their “power” spirit’s uselessness against you.

Things you learn when you are older, interacting with loved ones for years in particular through trials and tribulations and their causes. To have or to have had some good relatives who support(ed) you, it’s not a sure sign that your hard challenges are from outside. In their mist, the good one(s), there are the wicked against all of you, God and Purpose. From that pain in revelation the Peace of God of Jesus, the indwelling by the Holy Spirit then indeed “becomes” / is the devisive sword; and as he (Jesus) mentioned of/ prophesied about him in Joh.14:17. The Spirit of truth that the world will not receive for they will not know nor see him.

Nevertheless praise be to God to be so loved, to be selected and indeed to be a recipient of heaven’s great reward -Joh. 3:16; 15:16, & Mat.5:12 from v 11.

It’s still a tough passage to reconcile because He says “For I have come to (in other words, the purpose for which He has come) turn…”…. and “Anyone who loves their father more than me…”

So here’s a question then: Would you or me sacrifice our salvation for our children were that possible? Like sacrificing your life for them…pushing them out of the way of an oncoming car but taking the hit yourself for them?

The family members that believed in Jesus went against Judaism at the time.
Members of the family that were devout in Judaism would of despised there family members that believed in Jesus.
In this situation the members that didn’t believe in Jesus we’re deaf and blind.

Today is different, people that don’t believe in Jesus don’t necessarily believe in the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob.

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