In chapter 14:26 Jesus says, "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." These are stern words by Jesus; but following Him is far more serious than most people realize. Jesus did not mean that we should not have a faithful devotion to those who are our own flesh and blood. We are taught throughout the Scriptures that we should not only love our family and friends, but also our enemies. Jesus simply means that we should love Him more than anyone or anything else. He requires, and must have, first place in our hearts. Satan will make every effort to prevent our giving Christ first place, and will present many temptations to hinder our way. But Satan will flee from us when we submit ourselves to God (see James 4:7).

My prayer today is that Jesus has first place in your heart, and that you love Him more than anything or anyone. If you have failed Him in this area, ask His forgiveness, and determine that you will give Him first place and complete control of your life from this day forward.

In chapter 15 the Lord answers the hypocritical complaining and murmuring of the Pharisees with the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. With these parables Jesus is illustrating Luke 19:10, "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." In these parables the one lost sheep, the one lost piece of silver, and the prodigal represented the publicans. In Jesus' day the publican was commonly known to be a sinner, with no religion at all. Jesus was also rebuking the self-righteousness of the Pharisees, teaching them that they must humble themselves to a place of realizing they are sinners before they could be saved.

Chapter 16 contains the familiar story of the rich man and Lazarus. This is not a parable, but an actual historical illustration, also aimed at the unbelieving self-righteous Pharisees. In it the rich man's great wealth was not the evidence of divine favor, for he went to hell (Hades, Sheol, the intermediate abode of departed human spirits between death and the resurrection). Lazarus, a penniless beggar, went to "Abraham's bosom," which is a picture of paradise (the intermediate state in which souls of the just await resurrection). With this illustration Jesus was warning of eternal hell, but promising eternal heaven to those who receive Him by faith. He was also illustrating that material possessions mean nothing when death comes, and He was warning the covetous Pharisees to take heed and turn to Him, in faith believing.

MEMORY VERSE FOR TODAY: Man now can be: Justified.

Acts 13:39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.

Index of Daily Devotions