Our Lord is telling us that our measure of devotion to Him must be so much greater than our love for our families and ourselves as to seem like hate for them in comparison to our love for Him. There is a difference in kind and quality, not just in degree, respecting our love for Christ in comparison to our love for each other, or even for ourselves. Although we should love one another as Christ has loved us (v. 26), discipleship is a matter of life and death, or life and everlasting life. It is appropriate here to say something about the position of a disciple relative to his/her master.
In Matthew 10: 24 – 25 and Luke 6: 40 the Lord describes the Teacher/disciple relationship in spatial metaphors. “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple to become as his teacher, and the slave as his master.” A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher”. If we revisit Exodus 33, 11-15, we find that God spoke with Moses “just as a man spoke to his friend.” This word ‘friend’ in the Hebrew implies the same kind of Master/disciple relationship, a superior/inferior positioning that is implied in the New Testament word, ‘mathetes’.