“But let me first go bury my father.”
“Let the dead bury their dead. Come follow me.”
I remember reading those lines when I was first converted from atheism and thinking how cold Jesus sounded. I mean, the guy just wanted to bury his father! That couldn’t take any more than a day or two. And wasn’t burying his father a form of “honoring” him? Was Jesus not only being cruel here but also breaking a Commandment by telling the guy to forget about his father?
This scripture is not the only one that sets following Jesus above everything else on Earth. Other scriptures in the New Testament teach us to “hate” and leave our blood relatives and spouses in favor of following Jesus and doing God’s will. These are hard scriptures for lukewarm Christians to swallow. In fact, judging by their lives and the choices they make, most lukewarm Christians just skip over these scriptures and continue on their merry way down the broad path to Hell.
I came across an obituary this morning written for a woman who had committed suicide. Oh, it wasn’t framed in the obituary as suicide; they called it “medical assistance in dying”, but suicide is suicide, regardless of the term or the method used. The obituary also mentioned a female pastor who had assisted in the suicide and who would be officiating at the funeral and the burial in a Christian cemetery.
This is where we are, folks. The wood is definitely dry when an allegedly Christian woman commits suicide with the help of an allegedly Christian pastor, who then performs an allegedly holy rite over the body and inters it – allegedly with God’s blessing – in a space set aside for the remains of God’s people, and everyone participating in this ungodly act is commending the suicide as heroic, compassionate and forward-thinking, and thanking the pastor for her service.
Reading the obituary, I immediately thought about Jesus telling the guy to let the dead bury their dead. These are the dead he was talking about: to Jesus, the “dead” are those who say they choose life, but actually choose the opposite; who say they see, but are blind; who say they hear, but are deaf. The dead are not those who don’t say they choose life or see or hear (that is, non-Christians); no, the dead are the fake Christians that make up nearly all of Christianity today.
I wonder if the guy with the dead father chose to follow Jesus or stick with the dead. I hope he chose to follow Jesus, even if it meant his family disowned him and his village exiled him. I also wonder about the rich guy who was told to sell everything he had, give to the poor, and follow Jesus. I have no idea what these people did, whether they chose to do as Jesus advised or chose instead to go their own way, but they remain stark examples of how deeply Jesus wants to shake us to our core so that we can throw off the cares of this world (all those things that are holding us down and back) and genuinely be the follower that we need to be if we’re to make it all the way home.
Because that’s the goal here, folks – making it all the way home to Heaven. The goal isn’t to be respected in the community or compiling wealth and possessions or looking after your family, including giving them a burial. None of those things are valued by Jesus in scripture, so why do so many Christians today value them above doing God’s will?