22 But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.
Jesus’ words were here spoken to a hesitant disciple, who requested that he be first permitted “to go and bury my father” (v. 21). He wanted to fulfil his obligation to his father first. We are not told whether his father had fallen very ill or just died. It appears that he was simply expressing his preference to be at home to look after his father till the latter’s death.
Though it is a commendable thing to be a filial son who cares for his parents, it cannot be a higher duty than following Christ and doing His will. No obligation in life is superior to following Jesus Christ our Lord. All other commitments have to be placed under our commitment to the Lord. Jesus has said on another occasion, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37).
True, many a time, we desire to pursue good things; it is not that we covet to do evil things. However, if we, in choosing to do a lesser thing, forgo a nobler thing (such as a divine call to duty), it would be a serious offence.
Do you say, “Let me settle all my household chores first before I pray and seek His will”? There are many who prefer the inferior matters of this life to the superior matters of Christ and eternity. They would say, “Let me take care of my business first before I dedicate myself to worship Him every Lord’s Day”, or “Let me secure sufficient funds for my children’s education before I give myself to the Lord’s work”, or “Let me first foster my friendships before I come for the fellowship meetings of the church”, or “Let me entertain my clients first, then I will try to learn His Word”, etc.
Such a constant habit of relegating the greater things of Christ and His kingdom in order to enjoy the lesser things of this world is totally obnoxious to the Lord. A man does not need to deny the existence of God, or reject the Gospel message, or throw away his Bible, or commit an awful wickedness to be an utter spiritual failure. The moment he chooses to do anything at the expense of God’s will, he has just cast away the most sublime and superior offer that has been extended to him.
Jesus’ stark warning to the hesitating disciple is most instructive: “let the spiritually dead be concerned about the dead, but you should follow Me always.” Let no one distract you from ardently following your Lord.