Introduction - Sermon Series: “The Difficult Sayings of Jesus”
“The Difficult Sayings of Jesus”
Jesus is the greatest teacher of all, the Bible says He taught as One with authority.
He used great illustrations when He taught His disciples.
At times, especially when He spoke to the bigger crowds, Jesus uttered radical statements that made people uncomfortable
Jesus did not mince words.
He was not a politician who attempted to please everyone.
He said things that were a lot of times hard to swallow to emphasize the importance of what He is teaching.
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Three bases for understanding the difficult statement:
The Background of the Statement
The Character of Jesus
The Rest of Scripture
“Let the Dead Bury Their Own Dead”
What did Jesus mean?
If we are not careful, this may bring certain images to our imagination.
(Image of the Living Dead.)
Did Jesus mean to say that the “dead should bury the dead”?
We’ll see as we study the scripture that Jesus did not mean that the physically dead should bury the dead, let us examine in closely.
Illustration John McNeill.
John McNeill (1854-1933)
Illustration John McNeill.
You probably have not heard of a Scottish preacher named John McNeill.
He was a less known preacher to us but he was famous at his time and actually earned the title of “The Scotch Spurgeon”.
He even preached alongside the famous American preacher D.L. Moody.
There was a story of him that he was scheduled to begin a series of meetings in England.
His father died in Scotland on the day the services were to begin.
He was told that it would be OK to cancel the services, everyone would understand.
But hear John’s reply: “This same Jesus stood by me and seemed to say, ‘Now, look.
I have you.
You go and preach the Gospel to those people.
Would you rather bury the dead or raise the dead?’
And I went to preach.”
“Would you rather bury the dead or raise the dead”?
There can be a thousand reasons for people to delay following Jesus.
Jesus knows every single reason that you have.
In fact, some of them may seem so urgent, like burying one’s father.
“The Work of God’s Kingdom is not Postponed”
People are walking dead..spiritually dead.
The Lord needs workers to reach them with the gospel message.
People need to be led in discipleship.
People need to be nurtured, cared and prayed for.
Let’s study this passage in light of our three standards:
The Background of the passage.
The story starts with two people among the crowd approaching Jesus and expressed their desire to follow him.
But Jesus had to tell them that there is a cost to discipleship.
One of them wanted to bury his father first.. Jesus said “Leave the dead to bury their own dead.”
Seems harsh for Jesus to say that and some take this to mean that the dad wasn’t dead yet.
So the guy was just using an excuse to postpone.
However, this makes Jesus’ call less immediate and important..
But to give you a background, in the Jewish writings called the Talmud, their Bible and Book of Discipline rolled into one stated: “He who is confronted by a dead relative is freed from reciting the Shema, from the eighteen benedictions, and from all the commandments stated in the Torah.”
The Shema is like their pledge of allegiance and it comes from
4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
The 18 benedictions were their prayers at morning, midday and evening, so they were relieved of praying.
And they were released from obeying all the commands in the Torah.
In other words, according to the rules and traditions, nothing is more important than a funeral.
But Jesus shocks this man and the whole crowd.
Jesus being the radical that He was in effect said,
“Nothing is more important right now than The Kingdom of God.”
Jesus is saying that the old way of doing things is long gone.
2. The Character of Jesus
Grace, Jesus paid the ultimate price.
Salvation is free.
But there is a cost to following me.
“Freely you have received.
He gave a glimpse of His nature and character when He said: “The Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head”
Whenever Jesus uses the words the “Son of Man”, which He did 80 times.
Common understanding is that He identifies with mankind, as one of them being the son of man, or born of a woman.
So people think He is claiming to be 100% man and 100% God.
But Jesus being the radical meant to say something else, there is always something radical about what he says, there is no offense if Jesus says “I am a human being, a son of man.”
But for those who had ears to hear, they understand that the Son of Man is taken from the “Son of Man” from the Old Testament book of Daniel, chapter 7. There, the “Son of Man” is an exalted figure .
So in calling Himself the Son of Man, Jesus was claiming this exalted role in the history of redemption.
He meant to do it and it was His favorite self-designation.
He purposely inserted the words “The Son of Man in “Foxes have holes , and birds of the air have nests , but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
In light of Who He is the most important figure in all of creation, the choice becomes easier
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version.
Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.In light of Who He is the most important figure in all of creation, the choice becomes easier
In light of Who He is, the most important figure in all of redemption history, the choice becomes easier, because what He is saying is in losing “this life’s comfort, you gain Me, the Son of Man - The greatest figure in all of history.
Because the truth is if you don’t choose to follow Jesus, because He is the Son of Man You will still face Him someday in the future.
So make the right choice now!
Jesus is saying: If you choose to follow Me you have everything you need in this life and beyond and much more.”
We talk about the cost of discipleship.
YEs there is a cost, salvation is not just a ticket to heaven, but listen to this:
“In light of having Jesus, the cost of discipleship seems very small.”
The cost of not following Jesus is actually far greater.
3. The Rest of Scripture:
If we study this passage from Luke, we see that Jesus added a few words:
Here we can see, Jesus added “but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God”.
Jesus in saying “let the spiritually dead bury their own dead” is clearly saying this is more urgent.
The kingdom of God is at hand”.
Raising the dead is more important than burying the dead.
He followed it with a command, “go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
The last command that Jesus left us before He went up to heaven is “Go, go and make disciples...”
It is interesting that in Luke’s account there is a third person that approached Jesus from verse 61.
So the gospel of Luke, gives us a more complete picture for our study today:
There are actually three people,