What does the verse in Matthew 8:22 mean “let the dead bury their own dead”?

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“Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead” (Matthew 8:22).

Jesus was responding to a request from one of His followers who asked to be excused from his calling to “go and bury [his] father.” As pointed out (on v. 21), these words are in part figurative, in view of the fact that the father was very likely still living and the time of his death was indefinitely in the future. What Christ probably means is, “Let the spiritually dead bury those who are literally dead.”

Christ’s response to his request was designed to stimulate him to action (Luke 9:60). The danger for this man was in procrastination. Delaying the decision to follow Christ would robe him from a great blessing. And it would be well for him to make the break with his old associations now while right impulses were strongest.

This person was putting family before God. Christ told him to put God first and focus on his spiritual responsibilities “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deuteronomy 6:5).

The Lord promised as we seek Him first, all things will fall in place “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). The great purpose in man’s existence is that he “should seek the Lord, if haply” he “might feel after him, and find him” (Acts 17:27).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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