Epiphany 2022, Start Your Year on Sure Footing, Matthew, Day 15 of 58
21Another of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ 22But Jesus said to him, ‘Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.’
My first reaction, as perhaps yours, is that Jesus is awfully harsh here to this potential follower. My taking a deeper look we learn two things:
First, Burial customs in Jesus’ day were time and labor intensive. A burial was not just a commitment for a week. Furthermore, the motivation of this disciple could have been what concerned Jesus. Was he really after an inheritance?
Secondly, Jesus’ often used hyperbole and puns to get an important message across. There was neither intention on his part to be offensive nor would his audience have received it as offensive in the cultural context of first century, Roman Palestine.
Therefore, the meaning of this phrase is pointing to people using social customs and courtesies as an excuse to put off following Jesus.
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There have been times where I have had to make difficult choices to follow Jesus that go against social convention. For example, this Wednesday, Daniel’s t-ball league starts. If I find out that the practice goes beyond 6 pm on Wednesdays. He will not be able to participate on that night. I think it is much more important for him to learn about God with his church friends than play in a league that doesn’t fit my families priorities and values. We will find a sport’s league that fits our family’s desire to place God first in all things. That being said, I hope it will work out, but I haven’t received the schedule yet.
Lord, we will often have to make socially difficult decisions to follow you. We won’t win any popularity contests following you. Nonetheless, I know there is no greater purpose or meaning than following you, Jesus. Thank you for the purpose and power you bestow upon me through your Holy Spirit. In your holy name I pray. Amen.