Sermon delivered March 28, 1998

by Pastor Kent Crutcher

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Quotations from the Bible are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted

The Dead Bury the Dead

Turn with me to Matthew 8:18-22. Here we find Jesus soon after the Sermon on the Mount. A man with leprosy has been healed. The Centurion's servant has been healed. Peter's mother-in-law has been healed. Demons have been cast out, and many others healed. Now look at Matthew 8:18-20: "When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, 'Teacher, I will follow you hwerever you go.'

"Jesus replied, 'Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.'

"Another disciple said to him, 'Lord, first let me go and bury my father.'

"But Jesus told him, 'Follow me, and let the dead bury the dead.'"

Jesus knew this man's heart. He knew that he was sincere. But He basically told him that he did not know what he was getting into. He knew that this man's zeal would wear off very fast after leaving the comforts of his own home and life.

Look at Verse 21: "Another disciple said to him, 'Lord, first let me go and bury my father.'"

Now this sounds like a reasonable enough request. I'm sure that Jesus, who cares so much about us, will agree to this. What does He say?

Look at Verse 22: "But Jesus told him, 'Follow me, and let the dead bury the dead.'"

What? Isn't that a bit cruel. Hasn't this man just lost his father? NO. It is helpful to understand the conditions and customs of the times. First off, this man would not have been listening to Jesus if his father had just died. The death of a parent held a lot of responsibility for a son. Burial had to take place very quickly. Second, this man's father was probably a healthy man out working. This was a common saying of the day. When my family responsibility is over, I'll be free to do thus and so. This man was telling Jesus that when he had nothing else to do, he would find the time to follow him. Jesus was looking for disciples who were willing to give up what ever could hold them back.