Let the dead bury their own dead

The title is taken from bible verse Matthew 8:22 mean by “let the dead bury their own dead”

This picture is from http://crosstownalliance.com/2015/11/16/live-in-five-episode-4/

Dead bury own dead

This verse was spoken by Father Jesus in response to the refusal of an invited man to follow Him and become His disciple. He excused himself by reason that he has the duty to bury his dead father.

Jesus said, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” He was responding to a request from one of His followers who asked to be excused from his responsibilities to “go and bury [his] father” (verse 21).

Especially in Chinese tradition, if you would not care about your father’s buried, it is a taboo, people will be quick to call you unfaithful, disrespectful or unfilial son or daughter. You see, my father-in-law passed away few months back, 30/7/16. I cannot exhibit the care less attitude by continuing working and say the same the thing to my wife and her family members, “let the dead bury their own dead.”

This would be a very arrogant demand, especially in a family-centered Middle Eastern culture. The only reason it’s not is if Jesus is actually deserving of more love than anyone and anything else, and is thus God Himself incarnate. (Which is of course, what Christians believe about Jesus).

Critics of the Bible have often considered these as “hard sayings” of Father Jesus seems to encouraged his disciples to BREAK the fifth commandment (honor your father and mother) by not giving their fathers a proper burial. Is this consistent with the laws of YEHOVAH God? Is the Messiah really demanding this?

When He said “Let the dead bury its own dead? Is He is teaching us to be a irresponsible person, infilial son or daughter? Or is he saying merely a miracle will really happen, that the dead will really get out of the coffin and bury themselves? There are many interpretation to this bible verse. You can google for search it.

Billy Graham explained “To us Jesus’ words to this man might sound harsh, but that is because we don’t understand what the man was really saying. When someone in Jesus’ day said they wanted to go bury their father, it didn’t necessarily mean he was already dead. Instead they really were saying that they wanted to stay with their father until he died, something that might be years away. This man was simply looking for an excuse to avoid becoming Jesus’ disciple.” Url Link https://billygraham.org/answer/what-did-jesus-mean-when-he-said-to-let-the-dead-bury-the-dead

Most commentators suggest that Yeshua meant “Leave the (spiritual) dead to bury the (physical) dead” — see The Anchor Bible: The Gospel According to Luke I-IX, by J. Fitzmyer, and Luke, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, by W. Liefeld. This interpretation, though common and known as the “majority interpretation,” simply is NOT consistent with the text and with FIRST-CENTURY JEWISH BURIAL CUSTOMS! Taken from http://www.hope-of-israel.org/deadbury.htm

So many could justify that Father Jesus’ saying is correct, that the response to spiritual calling is more important important than our domestic (physical issue).

It is hard for many Christian to comprehend this, that you need to have agape love for Father Jesus. You must put aside everything personnal (fleshly associated) to follow Him, in order to be His disciple. Puting the love of Father Jesus side by side with family members, the comparison has to be so extreme, such that love for Father Jesus is so strong that everything else became hatred. Here are the supporting bible verses:

Matthew 10:37-38 (NIV) “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”

Does this sayings of Father Jesus meant that you should not love your family members? That would contradict the 10 commandment isn’t? “Honor your father and your mother, that you may live a long time in the land the Lord your God is giving to you.” Father Jesus is not saying that you must not honor (love) your father and mother, what he meant is that your love for Him must be agape love such that your love for your parent, as a comparison, is like hatred. Why is it like hatred? Look at Peter and the rest of fishermen, they left their livinghood and family behind to follow Father Jesus, that seems like hatred action by his family members.

Luke 14:26 (NIV) “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, even their own life, such a person cannot be my disciple.” Here is the direct translation as Father Jesus mention as if to hate your father and mother. But explained earlier, your love for Father Jesus must be such extreme as agape love that seems hatred by the human emotion and logic.

Allow me to provide a clearer picture leading to Father Jesus saying “Let the dead bury its own dead.”

Instead, Christ told the man to focus on his calling. A better sense of Jesus’ statement would be, “Don’t neglect the high spiritual calling I’ve given you; let the spiritually dead attend to the routine tasks of life.” Certainly, Christ would not forbid the man from attending to the funeral arrangements for his father. Christ Himself went to visit the family of His friend Lazarus after Lazarus’ death, even at great risk of His life (John 11:1-16).

Certainly, this man may have wanted to fulfill the oldest son’s duty to bury the father, to be near the father in order to obtain an inheritance, or to remain near the body of his father for up to one year to rebury the bones, a practice of some Jews at the time. In any event, Jesus’ answer makes clear that this request would have involved putting tradition and/or the disciple’s own desires ahead of serving Jesus.

1Kings 19:19-21 “So he [Elijah] departed from there, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he was with the twelfth. Then Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle on him. And he [Elisha] left the oxen and ran after Elijah, and said, ‘PLEASE LET ME KISS MY FATHER AND MY MOTHER, AND THEN I WILL FOLLOW YOU.’ And he [Elijah] said to him, ‘GO BACK AGAIN, FOR WHAT HAVE I DONE TO YOU?’ So Elisha TURNED BACK FROM HIM, and took a yoke of oxen and slaughtered them and boiled their flesh, using the oxen’s equipment, and gave it to the people, and they ate. THEN he arose and FOLLOWED ELIJAH AND SERVED HIM.”

Here we see Elijah allowing Elisha to return home to bid his parents good-bye BEFORE leaving to serve him. Elijah did NOT insist that Elisha drop everything, leave the oxen in the field and disappear off the face of the earth as far as his family was concerned! Was Elijah more righteous and compassionate than the Messiah?

My understanding for the reason why Father Jesus spoken in this manner to the disciple is that He knew the thought of the disciple. The reason was because the disciple wanted to make use of his Father’s buried as an excuse not to follow Father Jesus. When Father Jesus said to him “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” Father Jesus is merely telling him not to make excuses for not following Him and be his disciple. In our normal carnal world, we tends to make excuses for not doing something for someone, esp more so for Jesus’ mission, and that of “ceremonial burial” for the dead father is a very legitimate reason. So, did Father Jesus really read the heart amd mind of the disciple who make the excuse? Let us take a look at the sequence of event that lead to Father Jesus saying thus to His disciple.

Matthew 8:18-22 (NIV)

The Cost of Discipleship

18 And when Jesus saw great multitudes about Him, He gave a command to depart to the other side. 19 Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.” 20 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” 21 Then another of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 22 But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

Verse 18-19, Perhaps the scribe was very impressed with Father Jesus’s teaching and he wanted to follow Father Jesus wherever He go. Then Father Jesus told him that he will be traveling most of the time, and he has no fixed home where he can rest even His head.” (Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head). At this point, the scribe may not had followed Father Jesus as he was used to have good life and comfort at home. Father Jesus spoke into his heart. Then, Father Jesus, perhaps already knew the thinking of the disciple that he would be making excuses of not following Him. so as it was, the disciple used his father burial as the reason not to follow Father Jesus.

Yes, Father Jesus knows the heart of everyone. To the Pharisees, he spoke to their heart, Matthew 23:27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.”

Here was another instance where Father Jesus spoke into a person’s heart because He knew his thoughts. This case is The Rich Young Ruler Matthew 19:16-22 (ESV)

16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”

Sounds familiar? Do you have church member who had grown up in church, very successful, like a “Ruler” in control of everything, in his business and even church ministry. Here is the clue that biblically points to successful young man “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Father spoke into his heart, that he had used his effort to became “very law obeying in church” and be successfully rich. There is no lack for being a good church disciple and finacial. Father Jesus is not against blessing His disciples with richness. But what grabbed him is that his heart was so attached to his money (great possession), that he can’t let go and he forgo eternal life for his material gain. In today’s context, many of these successful “young ruler” would not be able to let go their “possession” to follow Father Jesus’s mission. They will find excuses, of having to attend to their business. The worst part is part is that these successful youth claimed that their success through their own effort is given by God. There will be a time when Father Jesus will test their faith, just like the Rich young man (or Ruler), whether they can let go of their wealth to help the poor in Father Jesus’s given vision. What excuses will they give? What if they are being rapture? Will they look back to their worldly possession on their way up to the cloud? Tell you what, thanks Father Jesus, I almost looked back for my family but praise the Lord, I carried “The anointing oil, Our Holy Spirit” is with me, HE cautioned me “Don’t look back!” I focused and zoomed upward towards the 3 clouds, I can felt the thin cloth adhere to my transformed body rocketing upwards. The air was so fresh. Then, within seconds, I was on my firm ground again, near the pedestrian bridge, crossing towards Hong Lim Complex. Well, did my such claim contrary to the Bible? Do you read bible? Father Jesus cautioned His disciples “Remember Lot’s wife”. She turned into pillar of salt when she looked back, refusing to let go her worldly lustful possession in the sinful cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
But as Father Jesus had spoken “let the dead bury their own dead”. What Father Jesus meant is that we worried over too many things and tends to give priority over personal affair than to make sacrifice for Kingdom of God. What He meant is that those problems will be solved by itself. Here is the assuring Bible verse that Father Jesus had spoken to His disciples, hope it is a blessing to all who read my notes.

Matthew 6:25-34 (NLT)

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life, whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God[a] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

I paricularly like the last verse “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” People who worry the tomorrow will never plan anything for the next day, and likely they will make excuses for not moving on to plan for the next spiritual calling.

Here is another example of worrying for the wrong thing. Remember Mary and Martha?

John 12:1, “which has the meeting take place at the house of Lazarus, who is not mentioned in Luke’s story). Her sister, Mary, sits at Jesus’ feet listening to him. Martha, “distracted by her many tasks,” asks Jesus to tell Mary to help her. Jesus replies: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42). Here Martha is the symbolical equivalent to today’s Christian doing and focussing on church ministries, but they forgot about the soft voice calling of Father Jesus. While those Christian who seems not very involved in much church work may had spiritual calling to do other tasks that is not within the church. They are the one who, like Mary, sits at Jesus’ feet and do HIS visionary missions. Martha could easily used the need to do the tasks as the excuse not to attend to and listen to Father Jesus’ teaching like The Rich young man.”

For me, I am glad, I did not continue with my market place of work and said to my family member by saying arrogantly, “Let the dead bury its own dead.” But I applied urgent leave and had helped out in my Father-in-law funeral. I booked the HDB function hall because brother-in-law not allowed to book any premises for the funeral as he stayed in private property. I had paid my last respect by bowing and not involved myself in the Taoist praying ritual. I could have stained the Gospel of Christ if I did it.

Anyway, if really there was a spiritual calling for me, what would do you think my respond would be? Thanks Father Jesus for His Gift of Wisdom and Discernment. I know how to discern whether the calling is from Father Jesus or not. I interprets and understood the heavenly language of Dreams, Visions and Revelations. John 10:27 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

To summarize, do not worry about what will happen next when received spiritual calling from Father Jesus. For you will not know tomorrow. You can plan everything by yourself but things may not happen your way. But if the mission is from Father Jesus, He will ensure that you will be blessed and rewarded. Do not give yourself excuses for not wanting to do God’s will. Also obeying human authority without getting direct visions, dreams and revelations from Father Jesus can tantamount to disobey God because they are doing man’s will. You can’t run away from God’s calling. Just like Jonah, what happened when he tried to run away from God’s calling? God caused a big whale to swallow him up. At least he repented while in the fish’s belly and did God’s will of warning the King and people of Nineveh.

I never procrastinate on Father Jesus’ calling. Father Jesus’ calling via my wife (who is still a non believer). She out of the blue suggested to me to apply for a job just across the street from my home. At that time, I was busy researching on internet for marketing strategy techniques. So I responded and applied for the job. I have my interview on the same day and 2 hours later received call that I was offered the job. Without hesistation, I took up the job. Today, I realized that Father Jesus had fulfilled my prayer that I had forgotten. I prayed for a job near to my home, not further than 15 minute of transportation and salary of $1,500 per month for my semi retire job.

So, my friends, when you have a calling. As a true disciple, you will be able to regconise the voice of the Sherpherd. What will be your response? Will you doubt and consult your Leader or act on faith? Father Jesus don’t have to say this to you “Let the dead bury its own dead.”

Here is another angle you can look at the phrase “Let the dead bury their own dead.” If you have any dead situation that you had tried with your effort or help from people but to no avail. Could be marriage, business or things that are dead, cannot work anymore. Let them in the past. Look up to Father Jesus, HE who resurrected from the dead will make your life anew. You will never know but Father Jesus will definitely give you something better. Here are the Bible verses that can encourage you.

Luke 11:5-13 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? So if you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

Put your burden and worry on Father Jesus.

Matthew 11:30 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

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