Skip to main content

Why did Jesus say "Let the dead bury the dead?" (Luke 9:60)?


After I finished preaching one Sunday, I had two young men approach me and said the Lord had called them into the ministry, and they asked if I had any advice for them. I said, “Yes, I can give you my advice in one word: OBEY!” I think this is perhaps the single greatest word of advice anyone could have for discovering and remaining in God’s will. Unfortunately it is also one of the areas of greatest difficulties for so many of God’s people. We are like sheep—prone to wander and amazingly stupid. We are like donkeys—stubborn and willful. We are like peacocks—proud and vain. We are quick to analyze and rationalize but slow to obey. We are masters of procrastination and experts at justification. Making excuses comes naturally to us, but simple obedience seems so difficult.

Delayed obedience is disobedience! I have found this to be one of the most common reasons people fall short of the will of God in their lives. So many people are continuously waiting for the “right time” before they step out and do what God has called them to do. I once heard it said, “Those who forever seek the will of God are overrun by those who do it.”

In Luke 9:59–60 we read the story of someone whom Jesus called to follow Him: “And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer 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.”

I’ve known this scripture for as far back as I can remember, and I must confess that for most of my life I did not understand what was going on here. In the back of my mind I had this feeling that Jesus was not fair to that poor young man. The man had not responded negatively to Jesus’s call. He didn’t say, “No, Lord, I will not follow You.” Actually he was quite positive and made only a simple request, “Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.” Was this so much to ask? After all, which of us would not want to attend our father’s funeral? Which of us wouldn’t want one day off to bury a dead loved one? Which of us would not have made the same request if one of our parents had just died?

One day I was reading this passage over and over, trying to understand it. Finally I put my Bible down and said, “Lord, why were You so impatient with that young man? Why couldn’t You have given him one extra day to bury his dead father?” The Holy Spirit spoke to my heart so clearly. Rather than answering my question, He asked me a question of His own. He said, “What makes you think this man’s father was dead?” I looked at the passage again and realized it does not say anywhere that the father had died. It says only that this young man wanted to wait to follow Jesus until he had a chance to bury his father.

My eyes were opened, and suddenly I realized what was happening here. This young man wanted to put off obedience to the call of Jesus until a more convenient time. Perhaps his father was old and surely would not live much longer. The young man thought, “After my father is dead, that will be a much more convenient time to follow Jesus.” He probably figured Jesus would be around for the next fifty years preaching and teaching. Surely he had plenty of time. But within three years Jesus would go to the cross, and the chance to walk with Him and learn from Him one on one would have passed forever. This young man had no idea how precious, how rare, and how fleeting was this invitation. He missed the opportunity of his lifetime because of two costly little words: “But first.” Can you see it? This is what so many of us do!

Jesus comes to us, perhaps in our youth, and He says, “Follow Me.” We say, “Yes, Lord, I will follow You, but first let me finish my education.”

Time goes by, we graduate, and then He comes to us again. “Follow Me,” He says. We answer, “Yes, Lord, I will follow You, but first let me get a job and save up some money so I have something to fall back on.”

We get a job, time goes by, and He comes to us again. “Follow Me,” He says. We say, “Yes, Lord, I will follow You, but first let me put my kids through school.”
The kids grow, leave the house, and have children of their own. He comes to us again, “Follow Me.” We say, “Yes, Lord, I will follow You, but first let me retire from my job so I can collect my pension.”

The years fly by faster than we expected. The young become old, and soon life has been spent. One day they lower our bodies into the earth to return to dust, and in the end so many never followed God’s call. My friend, the greatest tragedy in the world is a wasted life. Real life, in its fullest sense, is not merely having a pulse but doing the will of God. Many are dead while they live. “Let the dead bury their dead,” Jesus said, “but go thou and preach the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:60).

We are all familiar with the twelve disciples. These were the ones who responded to Jesus’s call. But I wonder how many people did not respond. This young man might have been disciple number thirteen. There might have been a book of the Bible named after him. His name might have been one of those written on the foundations in the New Jerusalem, but today we do not know his name. We know only of his epic missed opportunity. Let’s see the difference between his response to Christ’s call and the response of those who actually became Jesus’s disciples.

Matthew 4:18–22 gives the account of Peter’s and Andrew’s call. “Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.”

I love the way Luke describes this same event in his Gospel. “And when they had brought their ships to land,” he says, “they forsook all, and followed him” (Luke 5:11). Immediately they left their nets. Immediately they left their boats. They forsook everything and they followed Jesus. What a response! Something stirs in my soul when I read this. I want to jump up with those men and abandon everything to follow the SON of GOD wherever He goes. This is what that other unnamed young man was missing.

The opportunity of a LIFETIME only happens in the LIFETIME of the opportunity. There is a season for everything… Make a decision right now to say YES when God calls your name!!!

Written by: Pastor Eli Hendricks M.Th.

For more inspirational content SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube channel.

Photo credit to: https://marthaspong.com/2013/06/

Comments

  1. Excellent post! I have always wondered about that verse myself and like you had that light bulb moment - his father wasn't dead! Great analogy.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Is it ok to let your kids believe in Santa Claus?

"A wink of his eye, and a twist of his head, soon led me to know I had nothing to dread."- Twas' the Night Before Christmas, Clement C. Moore As a kid I was taught that Santa Claus was going to bring me the presents I wished for on Christmas morning. I watched movies and cartoons about Santa riding his sleigh with gifts to give to all of the children around the world. Some of the stories depicted Santa as giving coal to bad kids and toys to good kids and I was told jokingly by my parents that I would "receive coal if I was bad," but it was never made to be a serious threat. Up until around the age of seven I really believed that Santa magically came down the chimney and left presents for my brothers and I, and it never caused me to have any resentment toward my parents for telling me he was real. I saw it as my parents wanting to give me a fun Christmas adventure, a magical experience that my brothers and I could use our imagination with. As I learned

Did Ben Shapiro debunk the resurrection of Jesus???

In Ben Shapiro's recent interview with Christian apologist and philosopher Dr. William Lane Craig we find him presenting 3 major objections to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In this article we will be analyzing these objections in detail. For the video version of this interview clip and analysis you can simply click THIS LINK . Objection #1: Many resurrections have happened in the Bible, why is Jesus’ resurrection unique? The resurrection of Jesus is unique to other Biblical resurrections in a few different ways. Dr. Craig correctly pointed out that the religio-historical context of Jesus being tried and condemned as a blasphemer and then subsequently raised from the dead, sends a message that God approved of Jesus’ claims about Himself. Also, other resurrections in the Bible were performed by a human conduit, in the case of Jesus we find God Himself raising Jesus from the dead, confirming His unique status as the Son of God. Lastly, other resurrections from the dead only

William Seymour- The son of former slaves that turned the Christian world upside-down, forever

Just five years after the American Civil War in the year 1870 two emancipated slaves in Centerville Louisiana named Simon Seymour and Phyllis Salabarr had a son named William. These Catholic African Americans could never have imagined that their son would become the founder of one of the largest Christian movements in the history of the world, affecting every part of the globe and every sphere of society. Simon Seymour served in the Union Army during the civil war and returned afterward to the South where his family experienced poverty and racially volatile circumstances alongside of many other blacks during the reconstruction period . Although the war had ended, and slaves were now emancipated, the Seymour family like many others faced economic conditions that crushed the hopes and dreams of many African Americans in the South. Nevertheless, God had his eyes on Simon Seymour's son William, and the world was never going to be the same. Not much is known about William Seymour's