To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” -Luke 9:59-60
For the Christmas holiday, my wife and I visited family back in Virginia. We stopped by the cemetery to visit the grave of a family member who had passed last year. When we got there, we had a little trouble locating her grave and the Holy Spirit asked me, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”
Wow! This family member passed away with their Kingdom citizenship intact and is having a good ole time in the Kingdom of Heaven with the King. We shall see her again and we’ll all return to the new Earth someday, so why were we looking for her when she wasn’t here anymore? We were looking for her here on Earth while she is there in Heaven. For that moment, we were pursuing what was in the past and had lost focus on the present. Understand me properly; reflecting on the memories and lives of loved ones is a good thing. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this.
I began to think what it must be like to be the individual who oversees the cemetery. Day in and day out, this person is responsible for watching over the remains of people who have moved on from this life, some as recent as a few days ago and others decades ago. Keeping up the appearance of the graves, trimming the lawn, etc. All these activities were so that people could come and visit the remains of people who were no longer with them.
In this moment, the Holy Spirit was showing me what I want to share with you in this post. Let the dead situations of yesterday remain in yesterday. You go live for today!
In Luke 9:59-60, Jesus told a man to follow Him, but this man gave the excuse of having to bury his father first. Jesus replies, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.” There are a couple reasons why this man wanted to bury His father first. He was likely the first-born son and it was his responsibility to bury his father, and he likely wanted to receive his promised inheritance that was to come now that his father was dead. Regardless of the motivation, one thing is clear: Jesus knew that this man’s purpose was more important than even burying his own father!
Ouch! But, how can the dead bury the dead? I believe Jesus is referring to the spiritually dead who would rather stay stuck in the past with the dead, rather than move forward and live. Dead men don’t speak. Dead women don’t proclaim good news, only living ones do. Dead folk don’t inherit the life and responsibility of being Kingdom citizens on Earth. Jesus saw who this man was to become and sternly encouraged Him to let the past be the past. Perhaps if he went to bury his father, he wouldn’t return to follow Jesus. Perhaps family and friends would pressure him to stay. Whatever the possible outcome, Jesus knew that today was the day for this man to truly live.
Too often, we spend entirely too much time and energy trying to be where God was and not where He is. Whether it is relationships that were meant to be temporary, jobs that were supposed to be seasonal, or past situations we had no control over in the first place, we spend unnecessary time and energy trying to make something dead come alive again. We rob our present and our future by investing in the past. We tend, dress, keep, and make our homes among the dead. We revisit our mistakes, shortcomings, and failures. We blow balloons for pity parties and wallow in the grief of yesterday. We long for the good old days and what ifs. We become keepers of cemeteries in our lives.
I encourage you to come out of the cemetery. Leave the dead situations of the past there. Leave your mistakes and failures in the grave, but take the lessons with you. Let what is dead, remain dead. Go live for today! Live in the Kingdom of God. Your best days are ahead of you, not behind you. Your purpose is fulfilled in the future, not in the past. Everything God desires to do through you, requires that you live!
The new year is right around the corner, but you don’t have to wait until then to live for today. Live for today, now!
Grace and Peace,