Where does the Fifth Commandment fit in Jesus' teachings?

For many, the Lord's words in Luke 14:26 may come to mind: "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother . . . he cannot be my disciple." Some have taken this as a justification to lighten, if not altogether abandon, what Jewish rabbis have deemed the most difficult of God's commands—to honor one's parents. Yet, Jesus attacked this very sin in Matthew 15:1–9, when He exposed the spiritual fraud of the Pharisees, who would dodge their financial obligation to their parents by declaring that their possessions had been dedicated to God.

Perhaps even more than His teachings, Jesus' actions revealed His regard for the fifth commandment. In the only account of Him as a teenager, Jesus left the scene of his Father's business—explaining Scripture in the synagogue—to obey His earthly parents (Luke 2:41–52). He performed his first miracle, not so much for the sake of His ministry ("My time has not yet come"), but to honor His mother's wish (John 2:1–11). Even from the agony of the cross, while shouldering the sin of the world, Jesus fulfilled His duty as the eldest son of Mary by ensuring her continued livelihood in the household of His beloved disciple. While John did not record other more famous last words of Jesus, he undoubtedly treasured Jesus' bequest to him for the remainder of his life: "Here is your mother" (John 19:27).

When we consider how Jesus honored His earthly parents in seemingly mundane matters, we can begin to comprehend the rightful place of the fifth commandment in our lives. Our pursuit of God's will should never be an excuse to shirk our obligations to our parents. Rather, we honor God and His heavenward calling as we honor our parents on earth.
—Han Chung

For further study:

  • Using an Bible concordance, trace the use of the phrase "old" throughout the Scriptures. You'll discover that God is described as the "nourisher of your old age."

  • Read and reflect on 1Timothy 5:11–16.

  • Check out www.christianityonline.com/community/seniors/

How Adult Children Can Help Their Parents

  • Communicate often. Keep in touch by telephone, visits and letters. Remember holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries.

  • Respect independence. As long as possible, your parents need to make their own decisions about where and how to live.

  • Support "letting go." Listen to them and weep with them when they must give up their homes, their drivers' licenses, or their leadership positions.

  • Encourage reminiscing. Draw forth memories of the past and help them fit together the pieces of their

  • Listen to them. Hear the accounts of their past disappointments and satisfactions— even if told repeatedly—as well as the accounts of their current worries and fears, joys and delights.

  • Encourage spiritual growth. Help them find large-print Bibles, enriching TV and radio programs, and transportation to attend church. Encourage them to join a prayer chain or service group.

  • Support usefulness. Seek their counsel, praise their hobbies, and encourage their giving service to others.

From David O. Moberg, Decision Magazine, quoted in Lists to Live By, compiled by JohnVan Diest (ThM, 1966).