Prepare to Listen. Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.
Prayerfully Read Matthew 8:18-22
18Now when Jesus saw great crowds around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. 19A scribe then approached and said, ‘Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.’ 20And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’ 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.’
Jesus really meant narrow is the way and few find it. He didn’t make it easy for either of these would-be followers. In fact, he made it difficult. Makes you wonder about some of our evangelistic techniques today that make the gospel easy and user-friendly. We’re afraid to upset non-believers. Not Jesus.
He abruptly discouraged the scribe who said, ‘Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.’ You’d think Jesus would be excited. Instead, he said, in essence, Really? Let me tell you how hard it is to follow me. “To follow him,” Green writes, “will involve hardship, insecurity and homelessness.” Therefore, consider whether you’re willing to pay the price. He wants no half-hearted followers since they will never be able to stand up for kingdom truth and kingdom priorities.
Not to be put off, ‘another of his disciples’ proclaimed his willingness to follow Jesus but only after he’d buried his father. It’s not clear whether the father was already dead or not. Jews knew that burying one’s father, even waiting for death tp dp sp, must take precedence over everything else. Therefore, for Jesus to cryptically reply with, ‘Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead,’ was shocking. But, it underscores that following Jesus must take precedence even over the culturally important matters. “What Jesus was doing was so important, so urgent, so immediate that it was the one thing that mattered. Whatever else you were thinking of doing, this comes first.”
I wonder whether either of these men followed Jesus. What do you think? Would you have?
Respond in Prayer
Sometimes Jesus, I struggle with your hard way but then I remember it’s the only way that leads to life. Give me the strength to continue in your hard way, not my easy one. Amen.
Live Obediently. Let following Jesus take precedence.
 Green, Michael. The Message of Matthew. Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press. 2000, p. 118.
 Some followed Jesus then as disciples but weren’t one of the Twelve, that is, the called.
 Wright, N. T. Matthew for Everyone Part 1. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press. 2004, p. 87.
Despite having frequently read and taught Matthew's Gospel, preparing these daily devotions, taking that second gaze, has surprised me with newness.