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).

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published but you will receive our next BGEA ministry update. You can opt out of future emails at any time.


  1. Linda Peeters says:

    Great explanation.

  2. Lisa Lewis says:

    I want a closer walk with God.

  3. Lizette Martinez says:

    I’m so glad I googled this question. I never had any idea what he meant by that. Thank you so much for this. God bless you for your knowledge. 🙏

    1. Lady says:

      I hear people using this out off context all the time, so I’m glad if need be I have the correct answer for this Scripture.

  4. Jaaymos says:

    Thanks. I was asked this question in Bible study and never knew what it meant. Now I know.

  5. David says:

    Thank you brother for sharing. It makes a lot of sense. God bless you!

  6. Mary Murray says:

    Thank you! I now understand!

  7. Mary Smith says:

    Now I understand

  8. Ruth Alvarado says:

    Thank you for helping me see what Jesus’ message really was and is.

  9. Billy says:

    Thank you for the inspiration.