May 5th 2009

Let Me First Bury The Dead

“He said to another man, ‘Follow me.’ But the man replies, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.'”
Luke 9:59-60 (NIV)

Perhaps our first reaction to this incident is that Jesus is being unduly demanding. After all, the whole funeral arrangements for a deceased father could only take a few days. Today if a man is in the armed forces stationed overseas, he would be flown home; or often a prisoner will be given compassionate leave for such a bereavement. It is accepted for normal obligations and routines to be set aside so that one’s family responsibilities can be fulfilled at such a time. So we ask again, is Jesus being overly harsh in this incident?

This passage is often referred to as a ‘delayed commitment’. Jesus perceives that this young man is putting off his call to discipleship to a more convenient time. There is yet too much to do, places to go, experiences to enjoy, to think of making a lifelong commitment to ‘follow Jesus’.

The message of the Kingdom of God is all about a proclamation by which men can escape the bonds of death and receive the gift of eternal life. Consider the words of Job: “And as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth” (Job 19:25 NIV). The Gospel is the offer of the gift of eternal life, an existence beyond the grave. Can there be any activity more important than this? Jesus is illustrating for this young man that the activity of proclaiming the gospel cannot be put off until a more convenient time. There is nothing that should divert our attention from the most important of all discipleship activities.

Viewed from this perspective, don’t the words of Jesus make a great deal of sense? Doesn’t following Jesus NOW seem vastly more important than waiting until everything is in place and we are satisfied that we can give our undivided attention to the Kingdom of God?

This passage is not primarily about attending to personal bereavement, but being prepared to follow Jesus now, and participating in His Kingdom Work.

Thank you for the wonderful message of the Gospel, and that we can have a part in sharing the good news with others. Father, help us not to be sidetracked and put off our total commitment to being your Disciple and fellow kingdom worker.

Study by David Silcox 

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