Jesus is getting ready to leave town. He has checked out of “La Quinta Capernaum” and is headed down toward the docks. As always He is set about with crowds of folks who have been hanging on His every word.
And another of the disciples said to Him, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” ~ Matthew 8:21
I don’t think this is one of the twelve. More likely someone who was on the hillside for the Sermon on the Mount, or one who happened to be in the synagogue when He declared His messianic mission a week or so earlier. But you know what, it might be one of the twelve for that matter.
In any case, it was someone who had been following long enough to be considered one of Jesus’ students. This word ‘disciple’ means ‘learner under discipline.’
Jesus’ answer always seemed a little cold to me.
But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me; and allow the dead to bury their own dead.” ~ Matthew 8:22
I am thinking there are a couple different ways Jesus could have handled this. He could have drawn a map in the dust of the region of Galilee and showed the man where He was heading, so He could catch up again. He could have gone with this man to his father’s funeral. For that matter he could have headed over and raised his dad from the dead.
But I suspect this is not what is going on. I have a hunch that the man’s father was not dead yet.
I knew a man once who made a strong profession of faith and was following for more than a year. But he was from a Jewish background, and his elderly mom was a good Jewish mamma.
One day we were walking together and he began to ask me about his mamma’s future, since she did not know Jesus.
I suggested we pray for her, and that we ask the Lord for ways that he could begin to tell her about what a difference Jesus had made in his life, and how she should come and get to know the Messiah.
He told me he could never tell his mother that he had become a Christian. His exact words were "It would kill her if she knew I was a Christian." He could never believe that his mom needed Jesus. She was a good Jew.
I have a hunch this is what is going on here. The question is not, can you give me 24 hours to take care of my father’s remains and sit with my relatives for a while. It is more like: As soon as my father passes away I will join your band of misfits.
This is why Jesus’ answer seems so harsh.
If you want to be My disciple, stop what you’re doin’, swallow what you’re chewin’, and follow Me.
- Not soon
- Not later
- Not someday
- Not when I am out of debt
- Not when I get married
- Not when I am out of school
- Not when my children are out of the house
- Not when I retire
Jesus’ call to you today is simple – Follow Me.
See you tomorrow
Hey, don’t forget Friday’s coming – got questions – feel free to drop in at Friday Q&A so we can toss some ideas around.