What Jesus demanded from his would-be followers was an impossible thing to do in human strength. And it does seem harsh and unreasonable. Who can leave his father, mother, brothers and sisters, children and even spouse. But what God did by sacrificing His only Son for our sins, forces us to reconsider our initial reaction. Still, it is a hard thing to do. Why did Jesus ask his followers to make such a sacrifice? What does this achieve? Is it just a test us, to see who really loves God. Maybe it is. The narrative of Abraham shows that God tests his people to see whether they really love him more than anything in the world. Abraham was willing to sacrifice his only son. His faith was not mere words, but he trusted God unreservedly and was ready to sacrifice his only son. This is what God wants to see in our lives.
The Jews of the first century left their loved ones as Jesus had commanded. It was not a test, as in the case of Abraham, but they left everything, for real. How could they do it? The answer lies in one thing that we do not see today, where a group of people love one another more than they love their own lives. We see this reality in the earthly families, where parents are willing to give their lives for their children and vice-versa, but not anywhere else. Simply because it is humanly impossible. But this is what God did when he changed the lives of his disciples on the day of the Pentecost by the immersion (baptism) in the Holy Spirit. Something wonderful happened and people from different families and from various social backgrounds were united as one family. This was the impact of the divine love (Agape) that was poured into their hearts by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5). They found more love in this new family than they had experienced in their earthly families. Because the divine love is the most sublime and pure form of love that cannot be procure from any other source. It emanates from God alone. Only this kind of love can unite people into one family ̶ a household of God. And when this happens then leaving earthly family will not appear difficult and harsh. But the best thing that happened in the first church, which surpasses everything else, was that God started living with them by his Spirit. This was the fulfilment of the promise given to the Jews at Jesus’ birth that his name will be Immanuel, which means, God with us (Matt. 1:23).
We miss out on this kind of ethereal joy because we have started to believe that baptism in the Holy Spirit is not essential or is not required. Many other similar arguments are given these days by well-meaning Christians. But it is incorrect. Jesus came to baptise us in the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist said this, and Jesus made it very clear (Mark 1:8; Acts 1:5). The immersion in the Holy Spirit alone can empower us to become one family. Jesus also said that when we are united as one, the world will believe that God has sent Jesus into this world (John 17:21). Nothing else will convince the world of the truth, more than the united family of God, where His love abides in abundance.