Let The Dead Bury Their Own Dead?

Matthew 8:21-22 Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

My thoughts: The original Greek for this verse is “Let the dead bury their own dead”, not “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead.” Jesus is talking about two physically dead people in this verse. Jewish burial customs included the proper burial of someone immediately after they died.  After the person died, there was 7 days of deep sorrow, and then another 30 days of less intense mourning. The final stage of their mourning was demonstrated through a “second burial” when the body had fully decomposed. The bones of the deceased person would be gathered and put in a chest called an ossuary. The bones were put in a chest as an act of making atonement for the sins of that dead person. Jesus didn’t disagree with the first burial. It was the second burial that bothered Him. The tradition contradicted what He came to accomplish. There would be no need for a second  burial because Jesus would ultimately win our atonement. The man was making an excuse. When Jesus said “let the dead bury their own dead” He was probably alluding to- “there is no need for you to take your father’s bones and bury them. My blood will cover up his sins. Come and follow me.” When God calls us, He is serious. There is no easy way out in our relationship with Him. He doesn’t adapt to our traditions! He wants us to give Him everything, whether or not it is how we have operated in the past.

I got all the historical information for this blog post from-


This article really changed my perspective on this verse. I encourage you to give it a look.


One thought on “Let The Dead Bury Their Own Dead?

  1. You may be right about the dead people part. But for me, the important part is “follow Me”. They can’t follow Him if they’re at a funeral. This brings to mind Luke 14:26, where Jesus says that we must hate our father and mother. I know He does not mean literal hate, but our love for Him must be hugely greater than our love for parents. To the point where we will disobey parents, even in important matters, if their requests conflict with following Jesus.
    It looks like you’re doing good things; just remember that obedience is more important than activity. (Matthew 7:21)


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