I can see the headlines now: “Palestinian Preacher Distresses Grieving Family,” with a possible quote: “He totally dishonored my dead Dad, dude.”
Matthew 8:22 But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
Sometimes Jesus comes across as being hard-headed, uncaring, and insensitive to our modern hearts and minds. After all, how could anyone who claimed to be giving a message of God’s love, be so mean spirited about a death in the family? Was Jesus just having a bad hair day, or is there something hidden in His words?
I think what Christ is really saying is this: anyone who chooses not to follow Me is dead to God. In other words, Jesus is the only source of eternal life for each one of us and if we hold back on believing in Him, then our life is wasted.
But even that is highly controversial these days because our modern cosmopolitan society does not want to diminish anyone’s religious beliefs, or even their non-beliefs. Surely all religious paths bring us to God’s Kingdom? Isn’t Jesus being a bit presumptive and narrow-minded by insisting that those who don’t believe or don’t follow Him are better off dead?
It’s a tough choice and one that is very difficult to preach, hear or accept these days. But despite our objections, different opinions, and one world choices, there’s no denying this: Jesus said it, so we have to choose to live with or without it.
I wish that the Gospel was much easier to accept. I wish that Jesus hadn’t expressed those hard-headed, My Way or the highway words. But wishing is not going to change a thing about what Jesus said in the past. However, whether I choose to accept or reject them will shape and change my eternal future. One thing is for certain in my mind: I’d rather be alive with Christ than be dead to God.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, following You is not an easy path. Time after time, You say things that bother us, in order to challenge our cherished ways and put us on the right track. Open our hearts and minds to Your words and ways. Keep us from rejecting Your truth and help us to embrace Your Gospel. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.