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. Michael Threet says:

    Thank You.

  2. rco says:

    My mother wanted this explained to her and I couldn’t come through with an answer, well imagine my joy when I found this site thanks and God bless!

  3. Robert Blanding says:

    The answer given above: on let the dead bury the dead, I thought was very correct.

  4. Rosie says:

    This was so helpful. Praise the Lord. I want to go within Christ & learn every scripture & study it daily

  5. Silas Robinson says:

    God helps me understand His Word through BGEA ministry. Thanks so very much.

  6. Patricia v Pittman says:

    Amen: I believe what was said

  7. Stephanie E says:

    Thank you. Bless you and continue to be a blessing.

  8. Kyle says:

    I was interested in finding out what Jesus meant in Mathew and now my understanding has been confirmed. Very powerful! Thank you

  9. harold profitt says:

    jesus want’s us to give our all to him

  10. carolyn says:

    Thank you, very powerful!