“LET THE DEAD BURY THEIR DEAD”


This past Sunday (8/13/17) I heard a sermon on Luke 9:57-62. Verses 59-60 are important for the following discussion:

As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.”

Jesus was not saying that a man should not take care of his father’s funeral arrangements if, in fact, his father had died. There were those who took care of Jesus’ burial, and they did it quickly. He was buried the day He died. All four gospels report that on the evening of the crucifixion, Joseph of Arimathea requested Jesus body from Pilate. After Pilate granted the request, Jesus was wrapped in a linen cloth and placed in the tomb.

It seems that the man who was asking for a temporal reprieve from following Jesus was more attached to his past than what Jesus was offering for the future by following Him:

The form of the petition may mean either (1) that his father was then actually dead, and that the disciple asked leave to remain and pay the last honours to his remains, or (2) that he asked to remain with his father till his death. The latter seems by far the most probable. In the East burial followed so immediately on death that the former would hardly have involved more than the delay of a few hours. In the latter case the request was, in fact, a plea for indefinite postponement. This at least fits in best with the apparent severity of our Lord’s answer.

The lesson here is that God’s kingdom comes before everything else. It doesn’t mean that everything else is ignored; it just means that everything else pales in comparison. And I can assure you that the political kingdoms of the Left and Right (Alt-left and Alt-right included) are of little consequence when it comes to God’s kingdom since all other kingdoms (and they are kingdoms) are Kingdom usurpers.

I believe we are living in God’s kingdom, a kingdom that John the Baptist said was “near” and requires repentance (Matt. 3:2). We are called to pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (6:10). This is not a prayer of waiting for a kingdom to come; it’s a prayer about doing God’s will now! We must move on beyond the basics as the writer to the Hebrews pointed out:

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