And He said to another man, “Follow me.” But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Luke 9, 59 - 60
Death is omnipresent during this Corona pandemic. We can no longer banish it from our everyday lives. We encounter death in all media and in daily news statistics. And unfortunately very personally as well, full of deep pain, in the family and among friends. The Swiss ethics expert Ruth Baumann-Hoelzle said “death is part of our lives and what it takes for dying is ultimately what it takes for a successful life." For life to succeed, it needs good relationships with others. In order to say farewell to somebody else, an intact relationship is required, space and time for grief. It also needs consolation.
Doesn't it sound merciless what Jesus says to this man? All what this man wants to take care of is his father. He wants to have time for this last service which he can give to his father. After that, he will have time to become a disciple of Jesus. But Jesus says: let the dead bury their dead. But you, go forth! Tell everyone about God's reign and about his new reality.
God's new reality becomes visible in Jesus Christ. Wherever he meets people, God's reign becomes visible. He heals lepers and paralyzed people and reopens the space for them to live in community with others again. He comforts a mother who carries her child to the funeral. The whole city shares in her despair. Jesus suffers with her. He touches the coffin, brings the boy back to life and thus gives him back to his mother (Luke 7:11 f). Because death is not part of life.
Who is Jesus? Jesus Christ says (John. 11, 25 - 26): “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though he may die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Jesus is the life. He provides eternal life to all who trust in him. Eternal life begins today and is completed in eternal fellowship with God. Death does not have the last word. Death could not hold Jesus Christ in the grave. “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, as the first among those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Cor. 15, 20)
But not only this! The apostle Paul testifies to us: when God will have established His kingdom, the very last enemy will be destroyed, and that is death (1.Cor. 15, 26 and Rev. 20, 14). “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” the apostle Paul exclaims triumphantly.
What ever happened to this man who wanted to become a disciple of the Lord Jesus? The Bible does not give us the details. But I do hope that he was following Jesus Christ, the eternally living Son of God. I hope that he entrusted his whole life and death to the Lord Jesus Christ. And I hope that he was still able to accompany his father on his final journey. That he could testify this hope at the grave, about which the apostle Paul tells us (1.Cor. 15, 42 f): “So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown as a natural body, it is raised as a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (V.57)
I wish you preservation in spirit, soul and body! May the Lord bless you.