"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 his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." - Matthew 10:37-39 ESV
Who is worthy?
In all four Gospels we see that John the Baptist felt unworthy next to Jesus (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:7; Luke 3:16; John 1:27). His feeling of unworthiness is even used as an early object lesson is the Apostle's preaching (Acts 13:25).
"He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose." - John 1:27 KJV
This saying became attached tp John the Baptist's ministry. It is an interesting thing to say if you think about it. In American society you would rarely take someone else's shoes off of another person's feet. Maybe you would help a child or an elderly person... maybe if a person is sick or has a broken arm you would do it but it is rare.
It that society there were instances besides times of assistance when this would happen.
"And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.
Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, 'If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.'...
Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, 'Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven - for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.'
And he said to her, 'Your sins are forgiven.'
Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, 'Who is this, who even forgives sins?'
And he said to the woman, 'Your faith has saved you; go in peace.' " - Luke 7:37-39, 44-50 ESV
If you were a guest in a person's home the host would honor their guests by removing their shoes or having their shoes removed. As a sign of honor.
John said He was not worthy to do that. He could not help Jesus nor could He properly honor Jesus. John was not a falsely humble man. He was a bold and radical one screaming at the top of his lungs most of the time calling for Israel to repent.
I think that John knew that even His compliments fell short of reality. He was smart enough to realize that he could not fathom grace and that He had a low minded understanding of a high minded concept.
He knew He was of no help to Jesus also. Jesus would never break His arm so that John would have to help Him with His shoes.
Jesus rarely talked about worthiness except in the verses that were quoted at the beginning (see Matthew 10:37f). Jesus is also talking about honor in relation to worthiness.
The worthy person esteems Jesus higher than parents or children.
Who are the most honorable people? The ones who esteem their parents highly can be counted in that number. (Ladies observe how your potential suitor treats his Mother and Father because when the roses and chocolates of the first bloom of romance cools that is likely how He will begin to treat you also.)
Those who esteem their children highly are often selfless people. They work hard and commit time so that their children can have a good life. It is an honorable way to live.
Jesus demands a higher honor. It is higher than Earthly honor. He requires an internalization of grace.
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat." - Hebrews 13:8-10 ESV
John knew He had no right to eat from the table that we eat from. Jesus washes our feet and we wonder at the injustice of it. Grace turns Earthly honor out and dumps it out of the basket to make room for grace. To make room for Jesus. Our description is low minded if He does not have His rightful position in our lives.
Will you put your children before God in priority? It is a mistake. What about how your family thinks... does that come before God? Grace must be first. If it is first we become stripped down so that we fit through the eye of the needle.
It takes first place because it must. We would lose objectivity if it didn't. When it has first place the other things can fall into their right place.
Do we neglect parents and children. No. Jesus chided the Pharisees for doing this in Matthew 15:5-6. They deprived their parents in the name of religious duty diverting money from their care to gain status in the temple. Jesus is first before what is most honorable on Earth but that honor is only displaced for Him... not for us.
"And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me." - Matthew 10:38-40 ESV
The cross is our link to divine understanding. Jesus' cross becomes our cross. What He did makes it's way into our thinking and decision making daily and then moment by moment. When that happens unworthiness is not an issue. The cross tells us our actions have no bearing on our worthiness. Jesus' actions made the difference. His cross assures the worthiness of the most unworthy person.
Are we worthy to have Christ serve us today? If he does not wash our feet we can have no part in Him.
A life of faith realizes that we can not serve Christ. He decided to serve us.
Today will be fruitful day for me. I am going into with Christ as my focus. Grace is amazing to me today. I have confidence that that is more than enough for any trouble I might face or task that must be accomplished.