None of us are truly free to be Christ's' disciples until we break with everything that hinders our commitment to the Lord. Misplaced affections must be abandoned for they bind us to that which is passing away.
History provides an incident illustrating this important principle. When Julius Caesar landed on the shores of Britain with his Roman legions, he took a bold and decisive step to ensure the success of his military venture. Ordering his men to halt on the edge of the cliffs of Dover, he commanded them to look down at the water below. To their amazement they saw every ship in which they had crossed the channel engulfed in flames. Caesar had deliberately cut off any possibility of retreat! Now that his soldiers were unable to return to the continent, there was nothing left for them to do but to advance and conquer! And that is exactly what they did.
A similar psychology for discipleship is suggested by Christ in the words of our text. He declared that we as His followers must break all ties that weaken our commitment to Him. Jesus didn't mean we should literally hate our loved ones or renounce all material possessions. But He was using "coined expressions"-well known by the Jewish people of His day-to make it crystal clear that no person or thing should be considered worthy competition for the Son of God!