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 their own dead.” (Matthew 8:21-22)
Jesus made some startling statements when He was teaching about the cost of following Him, and His words before us today are no exception. We don’t know if this disciple’s father had already died or if the disciple simply wanted to put off following Jesus until the father did die. But what is crystal clear is that Jesus was not about to accept any excuse for delaying in following Him. There is a cost to following Christ, and those who are not willing to pay it cannot be His disciples.
It’s important to understand that Jesus’ admonition to this disciple did not contradict the biblical mandate to honor your father and mother. What Jesus was teaching is that no relationship is to rise above the relationship we have with Him. Loyalty to Jesus is to take priority over loyalty to anyone and everyone else. The best way I can summarize what Jesus was teaching is to say, Don’t love your family relationship less; simply love Jesus more.
This disciple’s request surely seemed reasonable on the surface. But Jesus never allows His disciples to engage in “surface” living; He demands that all His disciples live at the level of undivided devotion to Him. No earthly care is to become more important than our eternal commitment to Christ. Jesus will tolerate no rival, nor should He! Nothing in this life should eclipse our loyalty to the Lord (Exodus 34:14). Our decision to follow Jesus for the first time must not be delayed, and our decision to continue following Jesus each day after that must not be delayed either!
If you have been putting off following Jesus for any reason, remember that earthly gain is a terrible exchange for eternal glory. There is only room for one person to sit on the throne of your life: it will either be Jesus or you. Choose this day whom you will serve without delay, and may you always serve the One who is worthy of your undivided attention and affection.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!