By   •   October 5, 2004   •   Topics:


What did Jesus mean when He said to let the dead bury the dead? I've heard it quoted many times, but it doesn't make any sense. It must have a hidden meaning, but I've never heard anyone explain it.


One day Jesus invited a man to follow Him and become His disciple—but the man refused. He said he would follow Jesus later, but first he wanted to go bury his father. Jesus responded, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead” (Matthew 8:22).

What did He mean by this? Jesus wasn’t saying that people who were physically dead should bury other dead people; as you say, that wouldn’t make sense. Instead He was speaking of those who were spiritually dead—those who were alive physically but dead toward God in their souls. We may be very strong and healthy physically, and yet be spiritually dead—which is far more serious.

To us Jesus’ words to this man might sound harsh—but that is because we don’t understand what the man was really saying. When someone in Jesus’ day said they wanted to go bury their father, it didn’t necessarily mean he was already dead. Instead they really were saying that they wanted to stay with their father until he died—something that might be years away. This man was simply looking for an excuse to avoid becoming Jesus’ disciple.

What keeps you from following Jesus as you should? Almost anything can come between us and God; the devil will make sure of that. But Jesus’ call has not changed: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

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  1. William says:

    This is great,because many people thy don’t say it good

  2. Robert Conner says:

    Thank you that was very helpful love always

  3. Augusta Randolph says:

    My wife and I was discussing the conversation of Jesus and a man walking who wanted to go and bury his father and I decided to look it up and your comment came up thank you very much

  4. ANGELICA says:

    That scripture always scared me for some reason, because it sounded harsh and cold.. I kinda found it contradicting.. I mean we must care for our parents especially at old age and yet now here it sounded otherwise.. but now I too understand it and it makes my heart full. Thank you so much! = )

  5. doug scott says:

    love it!

  6. Joe Duquette says:

    In some way it happened to me. Recently, my dad was hospitalized. My family put my dad in his grave before the prognosis. My dad is up and walking and I told my family, let the dead bury there dead. My family has no faith and spiritually dead…JOE

  7. Veronica Brooks says:

    I really wanted to know why Jesus said that, after reading
    this I now fully understand it from a spirtual aspect.

  8. leslie moonsamy. says:

    Great stuff. Keep it up.