Let The Dead Bury Their Dead

Albert E. Farley

The Bible records the above words of our Lord in Matthew 8:22 and Luke 9:60. What lesson did He teach with this statement? What command is He giving to those who would be His disciples? Let us look at the context. 

In Luke 9:57-62, Jesus reveals the true test of discipleship to all who would follow Him. In verses 57-58, He emphasized that, if we would follow Him, we must, first, count the cost. “And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” Are we willing to forsake and to leave all in following Him?

In verses 59-60, Jesus stressed that faithful discipleship requires that we put Him and His work above and before all other works on earth. “And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer (allow) me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.” Are we willing to let the world (the dead, spiritually) do those things with which they are more concerned in life, that we may be occupied with matters that are eternal in nature and in consequences?

In verses 61-62, Jesus reemphasized the necessity of total commitment and dedication in following Him. “And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Are we willing to put Christ and His kingdom first – even before our fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters? Matthew 10:37, 38.

There is certainly nothing inherently wrong with burying the dead of our families and loved ones. God’s people have always done it. There is nothing sinful with bidding our loved ones farewell when we are about to take a trip or begin a new endeavor. However, the question is: What is first in our hearts and lives? Matthew 6:33. Our Lord will not accept second place. Luke 6:46.

It must truly grieve the Lord to see such great waste in our lives on things that are not necessary – much less essential. We often become so obsessed with family, profession, job, politics, music, recreation, sports, hobbies, saving the environment, saving the whales, preserving the ice caps, etc., that we lose sight of and have no time for the one good thing that is needful: the salvation of our souls! Luke 10:38-42. All of these things are important – some more and some less – but there is something much more important.

Dear friends, consider the examples of faithful disciples recorded in the pages of the New Testament as you determine where you will dedicate your time, strength, efforts, and money. Consider the house of Stephanas. In 1 Corinthians 16:15,16, the Bible says, “I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the first fruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,) That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboreth.” Consider the life of Epaphroditus who dedicated himself to the work of Christ to such a degree that he nearly died. Paul sent him back home so that his home congregation could see him and rejoice. Paul said, “Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation: Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.” Philippians 2:25-30. 

Where is your heart and what shall be your reward when you stand before God in judgment? Jesus said, “And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” Matthew 19:27-30. –Editor.

Return to West Virginia Christian