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Matthew 8:21 And another of the disciples said to Him, "Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father."

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Matthew 8:22 >

II. The Procrastinating or Entangled Disciple (Mt 8:21, 22).

      As this is more fully given in Luke (Lu 9:59), we must take both together. "And He said unto another of His disciples, Follow Me. But he said,"
      Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead--or, as more definitely in Luke, "Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God" (Lu 9:60). This disciple did not, like the former, volunteer his services, but is called by the Lord Jesus, not only to follow, but to preach Him. And he is quite willing; only he is not ready just yet. "Lord, I will; but"--"There is a difficulty in the way just now; but that once removed, I am Thine." What now is this difficulty? Was his father actually dead--lying a corpse--having only to be buried? Impossible. As it was the practice, as noticed on Lu 7:12, to bury on the day of death, it is not very likely that this disciple would have been here at all if his father had just breathed his last; nor would the Lord, if He was there, have hindered him discharging the last duties of a son to a father. No doubt it was the common case of a son having a frail or aged father, not likely to live long, whose head he thinks it his duty to see under the ground ere he goes abroad. "This aged father of mine will soon be removed; and if I might but delay till I see him decently interred, I should then be free to preach the kingdom of God wherever duty might call me." This view of the case will explain the curt reply, "Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God." Like all the other paradoxical sayings of our Lord, the key to it is the different senses--a higher and a lower--in which the same word "dead" is used: There are two kingdoms of God in existence upon earth; the kingdom of nature, and the kingdom of grace: To the one kingdom all the children of this world, even the most ungodly, are fully alive; to the other, only the children of light: The reigning irreligion consists not in indifference to the common humanities of social life, but to things spiritual and eternal: Fear not, therefore, that your father will in your absence be neglected, and that when he breathes his last there will not be relatives and friends ready enough to do to him the last offices of kindness. Your wish to discharge these yourself is natural, and to be allowed to do it a privilege not lightly to be foregone. But the kingdom of God lies now all neglected and needy: Its more exalted character few discern; to its paramount claims few are alive: and to "preach" it fewer still are qualified and called: But thou art: The Lord therefore hath need of thee: Leave, then, those claims of nature, high though they be, to those who are dead to the still higher claims of the kingdom of grace, which God is now erecting upon earth--Let the dead bury their dead; but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And so have we here the genuine, but Procrastinating or Entangled Disciple.

      The next case is recorded only by Luke:

      III. The Irresolute or Wavering Disciple (Lu 9:61, 62).

Lu 9:61:
      And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell which are at home at my house.

Lu 9:62:
      And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. But for the very different replies given, we should hardly have discerned the difference between this and the second case: the one man called, indeed, and the other volunteering, as did the first; but both seemingly alike willing, and only having a difficulty in their way just at that moment. But, by help of what is said respectively to each, we perceive the great difference between the two cases. From the warning given against "looking back," it is evident that this man's discipleship was not yet thorough, his separation from the world not entire. It is not a case of going back, but of looking back; and as there is here a manifest reference to the case of "Lot's wife" (Ge 19:26; and see on Lu 17:32), we see that it is not actual return to the world that we have here to deal with, but a reluctance to break with it. The figure of putting one's hand to the plough and looking back is an exceedingly vivid one, and to an agricultural people most impressive. As ploughing requires an eye intent on the furrow to be made, and is marred the instant one turns about, so will they come short of salvation who prosecute the work of God with a distracted attention, a divided heart. The reference may be chiefly to ministers; but the application at least is general. As the image seems plainly to have been suggested by the case of Elijah and Elisha, a difficulty may be raised, requiring a moment's attention. When Elijah cast his mantle about Elisha, which the youth quite understood to mean appointing him his successor, he was ploughing with twelve yoke of oxen, the last pair held by himself. Leaving his oxen, he ran after the prophet, and said, "Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and [then] I will follow thee." Was this said in the same spirit with the same speech uttered by our disciple? Let us see. "And Elijah said unto him, Go back again: for what have I done to thee." Commentators take this to mean that Elijah had really done nothing to hinder him from going on with all his ordinary duties. But to us it seems clear that Elijah's intention was to try what manner of spirit the youth was of:--"Kiss thy father and mother? And why not? By all means, go home and stay with them; for what have I done to thee? I did but throw a mantle about thee; but what of that?" If this was his meaning, Elisha thoroughly apprehended and nobly met it. "He returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen (the wood of his ploughing implements), and gave unto the people, and they did eat: then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him" (1Ki 19:19-21). We know not if even his father and mother had time to be called to this hasty feast. But this much is plain, that, though in affluent circumstances, he gave up his lower calling, with all its prospects, for the higher and at that time perilous, office to which he was called. What now is the bearing of these two cases? Did Elisha do wrong in bidding them farewell with whom he was associated in his early calling? Or, if not, would this disciple have done wrong if he had done the same thing, and in the same spirit, with Elisha? Clearly not. Elisha's doing it proved that he could with safety do it; and our Lord's warning is not against bidding them farewell which were at home at his house, but against the probable fatal consequences of that step; lest the embraces of earthly relationship should prove too strong for him, and he should never return to follow Christ. Accordingly, we have called this the Irresolute or Wavering Disciple.

JFB.


Questions Related to this Verse

Where In Scripture Does It Talk About making Excuses?

Where in scripture does Jesus cross the Sea of Galilee and quiets the storm?

Where In Scripture Does It Talk About Procrastination?

Where In Scripture Does It Talk About denying yourself?

Where in scripture does it mention that Jesus calmed the storm?

Where in scripture does it mention that Jesus crosses Lake Galilee and quiets the squall?

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Matthew Images and Notes

The Book of Matthew

Matthew 2:2 - Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

Matthew 18:3 - And Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew in The New Testament - A Brief Overview

Matthew by Rembrandt
Painting of St. Matthew with Angel by Rembrandt

Introduction to The Gospel of Matthew

The Word Gospel. The first book of the English Bible that most of us read from is the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew is the first of the four gospel writings, yet there is only one gospel about Jesus Christ and there are four different writers: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The word "Gospel" means "good news", and the good news is about Jesus Christ dying on the cross and then 3 days later conquering death and rising from the dead, offering salvation to all mankind, this is the Gospel.

Summary of the Book of Matthew

Brief Summary. Jesus of Nazareth is indeed the long awaited Messiah King of he Jews as foretold by the ancient Jewish prophets. He came to reveal how to enter the "Kingdom of Heaven."

Purpose. It is very obvious that the Gospel of Matthew was written for the purpose of revealing that the man Jesus of Nazareth was actually the King of the Jews, the long awaited Messiah, the sovereign Lord Jehovah who came from heaven to this world revealing to mankind the "kingdom of heaven". The King of the Jews, the Messiah Jesus fulfilled every prophecy that was spoken about Him in the ancient Jewish Scriptures, in the Old Testament. The prophecies that spoke of the "Kingdom" that the Messiah would bring would be a spiritual Kingdom that would never be destroyed.

Map of Israel in the Time of Matthew

Audience. When reading the book of Matthew it becomes clear that the writer was speaking to a Jewish audience. One of the obvious reasons is that the "Kingdom of Heaven" is mentioned over 30 times and never the Kingdom of God. This is because the Jews do not speak the name of God and this could be the very reason that Matthew used this phrase. There are many times while reading the book that an event happens and a prophecy is cited. The event is mentioned as the direct fulfillment of a promise made to the Jews by one of their Jewish prophets, and the fulfillment of the prophecy was happening before their very eyes. It is clear that the audience of people are the Jews, they were awaiting their King, and Matthew records that the King had come and they rejected their King.

Authorship. Early Christian writings and traditions have attributed the authorship of the Gospel of Matthew to the apostle Matthew. Many scholars question whether or not Matthew was the true author of the first Gospel, but there is no way at this current time to be absolutely positive based on historical evidence. Most agree that Matthew was the author. The Bible reveals that Matthew, or Levi, as he was sometimes called, collected taxes for the Romans. One day Jesus passed by and called Matthew to come and follow him, and Matthew did so. The Bible also records that Matthew held a banquet at his house with several of his tax collector friends and Jesus being invited to the banquet was the guest of honor (Mark 2:14-15). The Bible also provides a list of the 12 apostles and Matthew was named among them.

Date. There is no way to determine with absolute certainty the date that the book of Matthew was written. Most scholars agree that the book of Matthew was written before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., this is because Jesus spoke of many events as though they had not happened yet. A large number of scholars do not believe in the miracle of prophecy and therefore insist that the Gospel of Matthew was written after the fall of Jerusalem because of the accuracy of the predicted events.

Language. There are many references among the books in the history of the early church that state that the Gospel of Matthew was originally written by Matthew in the biblical Hebrew language, and he was writing to an audience of  Jews throughout the world who had become followers of Jesus. Unfortunately there is no evidence whatsoever of a Hebrew or Aramaic manuscript, so many scholars have agreed that the Gospel of Matthew is not actually a translation from Hebrew into Greek, but was actually written in Greek. The whole subject of the Gospel of Matthew being written in Hebrew must remain speculation rather than fact.

Outline of the Book of Matthew

The King Comes and His Kingdom is Rejected - Matthew 1-12
The Rejection of the King's Teaching and Ministry - Matthew 13-25
The King's Trial and Crucifixion - Matthew 26-27
The King's Victory and Resurrection - Matthew 28
The King's Commissioning of His Apostles - Matthew 28

Matthew - Interesting Notes

Study Bible Icon Matthew mentions four women in his genealogy which is not typical for Jewish genealogical records: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheeba who were all associated with some sort of immorality. Tamar (incest), Rahab (harlotry), Ruth (a descendant of Moab who committed incest) and Bathsheba (adultery). Christ's greatness was in Himself not his genealogy.

Study Bible Icon There are many intimations for the word "King" in Matthew if one takes the time to look. For example in chapter one there is a royal genealogy mentioning king David at the start. Chapter two reveals the kingly gifts of the Magi. Chapter three calls John the Baptist a "herald" which is a cultural term that represents a herald for a king. Etc. 

Study Bible Icon There are similarities with the number four. The four colors in the veil of the Temple were purple, scarlet, white, and blue. The four faces of the cherubim are the lion, ox, man, eagle. The four Gospel accounts are Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. 

Quick Reference Maps - Matthew

Israel in New Testament Times

The Kingdom of Herod the Great

The Divisions of Herod's Kingdom

The Flight into Egypt

The Baptism of Jesus

The Beginning of Christ's Ministry

Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee

Jesus Ministers in Galilee

Jesus Comes to Jerusalem

Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus

Jesus Journeys from Nazareth to Jerusalem

The Final Journey of Jesus to Jerusalem

 

Jesus written in Hebrew
The Name Jesus In Ancient Hebrew Text
"Yeshua" in First Century Hebrew Text. This is how the name "Jesus" would have been written in ancient Hebrew documents. The four letters or consonants from right to left are Yod, Shin, Vav, Ayin (Y, SH, OO, A). Jesus is the Greek name for the Hebrew name Joshua or Y'shua which means "The LORD or Yahweh is Salvation".

Matthew Resources

Outline of the Life of Jesus in Harmony
Simple Map of First Century Israel
Topographical Map of First Century Israel
Map of the Ministry of Jesus
Map of the Roads in Ancient Israel
Map of the Roman Empire