LUKE ix. 59, 60. “And He
said unto another, Follow Me. But he said, Lord, suffer me
first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the
dead bury their dead; but go thou and preach the kingdom of
THESE words seem at first harsh and severe. Many regard
them as breathing the spirit of those religious movements
and institutions which dissolve the nearest and most sacred
ties of natural kinship for the interests of the Church
and the promotion of the individual religious life. Young
people of a cold and selfish nature sometimes think that
the new life releases them from obligations of filial affection
and obedience, which they had always found irksome. But
our Lord’s teaching gives no sanction to this monstrous
error. The common relations of life are a discipline whereby
we are trained to spiritual perfection.
What did our Lord say, and on what circumstances?
The man probably heard of his father’s death when he
was with Christ, and wanted to return to the funeral. But
the father was dead, and the son could do nothing for him
now. If he had neglected him in life, he could not repair
the neglect. Still you say natural affection impels a man
to discharge the last offices of love. Yes; but there are
reasons which justify a man in being absent from his
father’s funeral. This was a very solemn and critical time.
The man appears to have been selected as one of the
seventy; and if he had gone home, he would have been
detained some days by the ceremonial law; his purpose
might have been weakened; so even in the hour of his
grief he is commanded to do this great service.
Let the dead bury their dead. Does this show contempt
for the unspiritual? No; our Lord never spoke with con-
temptuous indifference of such; it was His very eagerness
that they should rise to a new and better life that led
Him to call this man away. The whole narrative suggests
that critical moments in a man’s life bring critical duties.
If God is near us now in a very special and solemn
manner, then that principle enters our life and regulates
R. W. Dale, D.D.