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. Rosie says:

    Thank you, on Friday my son told a friend of a person who was found dead in the park funeral date. The person who is not serving the Lord stated. Luke 9:23 let the dead bury the dead. I have also heard Christian’s believes state this Scripture and not explain its meaning. I have always wondered about the meaning of this Scripture., because i know the dead who is physically dead cannot bury another dead person. 😊 Thank you for explaining to me in a way I can understand and now I can share with others. I respect this explanation coming from Billy Graham ✊ God Bless

  2. Karen Naab says:

    Thank you. This helped me out in studying.

  3. Sandra Brown says:

    I like the first explanation. The second part I did not know. So I learned the full meaning of this scripture. Thanks.

  4. Pastor Tommy Page says:

    May God continue to strengthen this ministry

  5. Prince Paul says:

    I love to work with you people all the time for I need to know more about God.

  6. Jose Fernandez says:

    Very good answer.