TEXT: Matthew 8:18-23
18 Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side.
19 And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.
20 And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
21 And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
22 But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.
23 And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him.
As we continue looking at the story of Jesus and the would-be disciples, we are introduced to another man who is described as already being a disciple. We do not know his name or station in life. However, he appears to have been someone who at the very least “followed” Jesus’ teachings and actions in the Judean region. He was interested enough to stick around Jesus and bold enough to describe himself as a disciple of Jesus. However, based on his statement to Jesus, we know that he had not yet decided to follow Jesus full-time, 100%.
However, it appears that this man was on the cusp of that decision. He was about to dive deep into the living water. But, he had one thing he felt he needed to take care of first. He tells Jesus, “Lord, I must needs go first and bury my father.” To be clear, the man’s father was not yet dead; but, apparently, his soon passing was anticipated. Among first century Jewish culture, family ties were a big deal. The death of a father meant that the family structure would be shaken up a bit. The father’s wealth would be divided among his sons, with the oldest son getting a double portion and becoming the de facto leader and public head of the extended family. The burial and mourning process was an extended multi-day affair, and if one did not show up and mourn appropriately, he was seen by other family members as not having done his or her duty.
Jesus, of course, knew all of this. He knew that this man was worried about what his family would think if he did not show up to the mourning procedures. He also knew that this man was probably eager to gather his inheritance whether it was money, livestock, or land. However, as with the scribe, Jesus does not answer this man with a “yes” or “no.” Instead, He again sets out to describe what it often means to follow Jesus. And, sometimes, following Jesus means shunning family tradition, personal propriety, and societal norms. Jesus shockingly tells this man, “Let the dead bury their dead. Come thou and follow me.”
J.C. Ryle points out that Jesus was not afraid to discourage potential disciples. Unlike many modern evangelists, Jesus was interested more in quality than in quantity. Ryle said, “Nothing has done more harm to Christianity than the practice of filling the ranks of Christ’s army with every volunteer who is willing to make a little profession, and to talk fluently of experience.”
Jesus makes it clear that ultimate dedication is necessary for disciples of Christ. His statement, “Let the dead bury their dead,” expresses that those who are spiritually dead (those who are not true disciples) have a legitimate concern with this physical life and all that it entails, including attending funerals and taking care of the bodies of those who die. However, those who are spiritually alive (those who are true disciples of Christ) know that physical death is not the end. So, attending a funeral, or burying a body, or attending a family gathering is neither here nor there; all those things are ultimately matterless. The true disciple is more concerned about the spiritual realm, the kingdom of God, and whether people, dead or alive, are citizens of that kingdom. That is what Jesus is looking for in His disciples.
Alfred Snead wrote:
Fully surrendered—Lord, I would be,
Fully surrendered, dear Lord, to Thee.
All on the altar laid,
Surrender fully made,
Thou hast my ransom paid;
I yield to Thee.
Fully surrendered—life, time, and all,
All Thou hast given me held at Thy call.
Speak but the word to me,
Gladly I’ll follow Thee,
Now and eternally
Obey my Lord.
Fully surrendered—silver and gold,
His, who hath given me riches untold.
All, all belong to Thee,
For Thou didst purchase me,
Thine evermore to be,
Jesus, my Lord.
Fully surrendered—Lord, I am Thine;
Fully surrendered, Savior divine!
Live Thou Thy life in me;
All fullness dwells in Thee;
Not I, but Christ in me,
Christ all in all.
Now, if you are with us today and you do not know Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to show you how you can place your faith and trust in Him for Salvation from sin and Hell.
First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now that is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your Salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you believed in your heart that Jesus Christ died on the Cross, was buried, and rose again, allow me to say, congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour! For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
If you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior today, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know. There is some free material that we want to send you. If you have a prayer request, please e-mail that to us as well, and we will pray for you until you tell us to stop.
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books including the Essence Magazine, Dallas Morning News, and Amazon.com national bestseller, Letters to Young Black Men. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry.
He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others.
He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty University’s Rawlings School of Divinity (formerly Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary). He is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Ministry degree.
He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica since 1987. God has blessed their union with seven children.