Let the Dead Bury Their Own Dead


In the Gospel of Matthew 8:22 we read about the disciple who wanted to follow Jesus but asked to first be allowed to go and bury his father who had died. And Jesus replies: “Follow me; let the dead bury their own dead.”

These are the recorded words that Jesus spoke, Jesus, the Son of God, the same God that is also known as love in 1 John 4:16.

If this was paraphrased it could read “Follow Me and let those who are physically living but spiritually dead, bury those who are both physically and spiritually dead.”

Sounds a little harsh, doesn’t it? Maybe even a little insensitive? But how could the Son of God, who was sent to us by the Father, who is love, say something like this?

Maybe it was because this disciple had a unique opportunity in front of him and Jesus wanted to make sure that he understood the opportunity. Or maybe Jesus wanted this disciple and us to understand that when it comes to choosing life, real everlasting life, that He alone holds out to us, nothing, absolutely nothing, should be allowed to stand in the way.

Remember, Jesus also said, “I am the way, the truth and the life; No man comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6)

Actually Jesus said a lot of things that today could be considered by some as “socially unacceptable” or “politically incorrect”. He called the scribes and Pharisees “hypocrites” and “a generation of vipers” (Matthew 23:25, 33). And there’s also a substantial number of events recorded in God’s Word that many can and do find difficult to equate with a “loving” God, which is usually associated with a corresponding failure to take into consideration God’s holiness and His divine sovereign purposes.

A lot of times Jesus just tells it “like it is” from His divine perspective and many were offended then and many are and will continue to be offended now. The questions that God put before Job and his “learned” friends thousands of years ago with regard to the created universe, including the various ecosystems on earth and all of created life, ourselves included, still remain largely unanswered, especially with regard to origin of life and the beginning of our universe, yet many of our “great scientific minds” have the audacity to reject, as out of hand, God’s revelation in the Bible, preferring to explain it all as sheer unguided chance and something coming from nothing. Of course with sheer unguided chance and the ultimate nothing, from the creation of the universe, comes no accountability. Mankind answers to no one. One has such liberties of choices that way, especially when it concerns those who “have” as opposed to those who “have not”. Think abortion, think limited resources, think debt load we’re leaving for our children, think people of color equality or male/female equality, think environmental responsibility, or corporate greed coupled with a lack of accountability for product safety, to name but a few.

Did I mention that God is no respect of persons, as in He doesn’t favor one person over another just because I am me and you are someone else (Acts 10:34-35).

“Follow me; let the dead bury their own dead.” Different reality, bigger picture being spoken of here. Some see it and some chose not to see it. Some hear it and some chose not to hear it.

Matthew 13:15 “For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”

There’s no designed order, there’s no finely tuned balance, no objective morality, just totally unguided chance, random chaos and subjective morality that apparently continues to spiral towards total inclusiveness or exclusiveness, depending upon the chosen persuasion, at the expense of those “haves” who live in a different bubble from those “have nots” who don’t. It makes such perfect sense.

Romans 1:20 NIV  “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

And if I hear one more comment from the religious “right” about the ungodly “left” I’m going to scream. Attack the policy, but please do not infer that as a section of humanity, one is righteous and the other is not. Neither is “righteous” in and of ourselves, and to lose sight of that only indicates how blind we all have become.

Our heavenly Father didn’t send His Son to us to just enlighten our understanding, He also sent Jesus to us to, because of His love for us and to save us from ourselves. So yes, you’re going to hear Jesus say things that don’t sit right with our “enlightened” society, and you’re going to read of things happening in the Bible, in both the Old and New Testament, that aren’t going to sit well with those who defy anyone, including God, from making them accountable to a standard that is above their own. This isn’t new, it’s happened throughout all recorded history, it just seems like, as of late, the boundaries of what is righteous and what is not, are being clouded even more.

John 16:33 NIV  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!


  1. Thank you, Bruce. You are the first I have read that addresses this quote. When I first understood it, it meant exactly what you have expressed ~ considering that we are all “dead in trespasses and sin” until we are quickened to new birth by the Spirit of Christ. We are blessed and yet mortified at times to observe those who are “perishing in their sin.” These are the times we must look intently to Him, the only one who can give life; then pray and speak His Word, hoping He will waken the dead around us. Blessings for your worship tomorrow.:)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Excellent! I especially liked the part about right and left. You are so right! We need to address issues. Christians should not allow themselves to get caught up in all of that political jargon. They end up fighting with each other, and in public, and that is just wrong.


    • Yes, I agree. I find it difficult to not point that reality out at times because of the shortsightedness that I see so often in some fellow Christians. But …. it wasn’t that many years ago that I used the same broad brush of criticism against all Roman Catholics etc. Separating issues, doctrines and people is a skill set that takes time to develop and it is not easy.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Bruce, I believe the whole thing of letting the dead bury the dead has to do with total commitment to Jesus Christ. He makes it clear in scripture over and over again that following him means leaving everything behind. If something we want to hold on to is more important to us than following Jesus, then we are not really serious about following Jesus with our lives.

    It also has to do with what is temporary vs. what is eternal; what is of this world vs. what is of the kingdom of heaven. So many things we might want to hold on to are temporary, where Jesus wants us to choose what is eternal. He wants us to leave behind us whatever will keep us from total commitment to him. And, he wants us to follow him in full surrender to his will for our lives, to go wherever he sends us, and to do whatever he has called us to do, even if it doesn’t make sense to friends or family members or whoever.


    • I hear what you’re saying but … there also is a balance between what you divorce yourself from and how you identify with others. Jesus eating with the tax collectors and talking to the woman from Samaria are cases in point. Being in the world but not of the world does not mean that one necessarily has to isolate one’s self from everyone and everything. It’s relatively easy to expound upon what one should be doing without actually demonstrating God’s love to a world of sinners. Years ago I worked with a fellow Christian who basically had very little positive things to say about anyone who didn’t agree with his strict opinion of what a Christian should be. He wasn’t well liked at work because of his attitude. I chose to speak the same truths but I also identified with the men that I worked with. For example, if they asked me to go to the Mess with them after work for a beer, I would go and have one beer and then leave. They were the ones that brought it to my attention that they would listen to what I had to say because I did not look down on them where as the other gentleman made it quite clear that he disapproved of them because of their unbelief. There’s a fine line and unless love is exercised or demonstrated, the words that are spoken can become like sounding brass. Your thoughts?


      • Bruce, I am not talking about total isolation from anyone. I am talking about the Lord says “Move here because I have a ministry for you here,” but it means leaving your adult children and your grandchildren behind or your parents behind to go where God/Jesus sends you. So, you have a choice. You can obey the Lord, go where he sends you, or you can remain where you are so you can remain with family and friends. Which do you choose? Follow the Lord wherever he sends you? Or remain where you are comfortable, and with family/friends?


  4. You already know the answer to that question Sue. If you have received direction from God, then you obey. How you deem that you have received this direction is another matter and ultimately, from my perspective, is between the individual and God. And seeing that I am not God, I would have no right to call that calling into question. However, in your initial response you included “what is temporary vs. what is eternal; what is of this world vs. what is of the kingdom of heaven.” Speaking with tax collectors or people from Samaria who had a corrupted understanding of God’s will, includes dealing with the temporary, as Jesus did and was in essence, what I was commenting on. God doesn’t call everyone to leave their family and friends, sometimes it is remaining within the environment of family and friends that is the means whereby God teaches us how to be in the world but not of the world, especially where ministering in love is involved. My apology if I misunderstood you. Grace and blessings Sue.


    • Bruce, living in the world and living of the world are two different things. Jesus says we are to be separate from the world, meaning we are not to partake of or make as our gods what is of the flesh, what is impure, unholy, worldly, etc. We are not to love the world as we are to love God, meaning the things of the world, the lust of the flesh, the pride of life, etc.

      But, letting the dead bury the dead, as Jesus said, goes beyond just that. It has to do with choosing to follow Jesus wherever he takes us, and sometimes that does mean leaving family members behind. Again, it has to do with who is Lord of our lives. Is Jesus truly master? Will we do what he says, say what he says to say, go where he says to go, even if it means leaving the comforts of this world behind us or close relationships, or even if it means getting rejected, hated, accused falsely, etc., in order to follow Jesus in obedience? This is really what this is about, I believe. Again, it is about complete surrender to Jesus Christ.


      • Your summary is correct Sue but sometimes that complete surrender also addresses our own attitude and the tone and the spirit in which the words that come out of our own mouths are spoken. Sometimes we get rejected, not because of a deficiency in the message of the Gospel but because we fail to show compassion and consideration in it’s delivery. I wrote an article on this very subject a number of months ago and it was entitled “It’s Not Just What You Say …” Here is the link: https://bcooper.wordpress.com/2017/08/25/its-not-just-what-you-say/ If you get a chance please read it. I’m not arguing with what you are saying, I agree. What I am also saying is that God asks us to remember that we once were like them and to include that understanding in the delivery.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Bruce, you shared that story with me before, maybe a year or so ago. I think we maybe even had a discussion about it, too. Yes, we need the guidance of the Holy Spirit in what we say, and yes, we should not respond to people in the flesh.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s