Sometimes statements and quotes in the Bible can be, especially on first glance, difficult to understand or, even at times, troublesome. Who, even the most passionate Bible lover, hasn’t had that experience?
For instance, just after a scribe (a scribe!) said to Jesus, “Teacher I will follow you wherever you go?” (Matthew 8:19), a disciple of Jesus comes to Him and asks, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” (Matthew 8:21).
However reasonable this request, what does Jesus answer but, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”(Matthew 8:210.
What? How compassionate is that?
Two things, however, to consider.
First, most Bible scholars do not believe that the man had just lost his father. That is, Pop hadn’t just died that morning and the man intended to bury him that next day, or the like. Instead, they believe that the man was, saying, basically: Look, let me take care of my family obligations first, such as burying my father whenever he does die, and then I will follow You.
If that is the case, Jesus is telling him what He has, in various ways, told all who want to follow Him: Jesus comes first, even before family.
Secondly, let the dead bury the dead isn’t zombie theology here. In Jesus is life, and in Jesus alone is life (See John 6:53). As John said it: “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:1). So, by telling the man to let the dead bury the dead, Jesus was making a powerful statement about letting those who do “not have life,” i.e., the dead, to bury the dead. Let those who don’t follow me do their own thing; you, meanwhile, if you want life—follow Me.
No question, He is saying that same thing to us as well.