“Another of the disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead’” (Matthew 8:21–22).
This man, perhaps a hanger-on who had followed Jesus around the countryside for a while, makes what seems at first to be a reasonable statement. His seeking permission to go and bury his father, however, did not mean his parent was already dead. It was and is a common Middle Eastern figure of speech referring to a child’s (mainly a son’s) responsibility to help with the family business until the father dies and the inheritance is available. Such a commitment can conceivably take a long time to fulfill. It’s the same as saying, “I need to wait until I receive my inheritance.”
This superficial disciple did not want devotion to Jesus to get in the way of receiving what was coming to him. He was okay with associating with the Lord by name, but his personal prosperity and well-being came ahead of serving Christ.
Jesus’ reply was right on the mark with another proverbial saying, “Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.” In other words, “Let the world take care of the things of the world.” We should let the spiritually dead manage their own affairs.
Believers must not pattern their thinking after the world’s ways, but be disciples of Christ and bring the good news of eternal life to the world, relying on His grace and enabling.
Are there any plans and hopes and dreams you are still holding on to that may not square with the will of God for your life? If you had to surrender any of these for the cause of Christ, how do you think you’d react?
From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008.