Once in a while in reading the scriptures, you run into a saying that can really leave you scratching your head. For years, one of those for me was Jesus’ call to discipleship in Luke 9:60, after a would-be disciple asks permission “to go and bury my father” (v. 59). Jesus replies, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” Did Jesus get up on the wrong side of the bed that day? Maybe he was super-harsh in order to make a point.
Actually, when the man told Jesus he wanted to first bury his father, it’s not likely his father was dead or even sick. In other words, the man was telling Jesus it would be best for him to follow our Lord EVENTUALLY, after his father EVENTUALLY died. William Barclay, in commenting on this verse, recalled how a Middle Eastern student was offered a scholarship to a college; he replied he would attend the school after his father was buried—and his father was a healthy (and very much alive) 40-year-old. So this is not an uncommon way to speak in that culture.
The man Jesus called to follow Him wanted to wait until circumstances were “favorable” before responding to Jesus’ call. Jesus replied that His call requires an IMMEDIATE obedient response, trusting in the Lord of all circumstances. It’s a scary prospect that, as I heard a pastor once say, we can never regain through sacrifice what we lose through disobedience.
“It's too late to be stopped at the crossroads
Each life here each a possible way
But wait—and they all will be lost roads
Each path's growing shorter the longer I stay
I was dead with deciding, afraid to choose
I was mourning the loss of the choices I'd lose
But there's no choice at all if I don't make my move
And trust that the timing is right…”
from Hold It Up to the Light by Smalltown Poets