Christian Churches of God

No. 16





Let the Dead Bury Their Dead

(Edition 3.0 19940416-19991106-20070118)


This paper explains the meaning behind this rather terse comment of the Messiah in Luke 9:59-62 during his ministry. The proper application of the principles behind this text is important for harmonious Christian living.




Christian Churches of God

PO Box 369,  WODEN  ACT 2606,  AUSTRALIA




(Copyright © 1994, 1999, 2007 Wade Cox)


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Let the Dead Bury Their Dead


The Lord was said to have given a very harsh statement regarding the conditions of his service.

Luke 9:59-62  But he said to him, 'Lord, let me first go and bury my father.'  60 But he said to him, 'Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.' 61 Another said, 'I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.'  62 Jesus said to him, 'No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.'

What does this mean? Who were the dead? What is the ploughing to which Christ referred? The dead were held to be those of this world. The elect were called out of this world to a life of service and dedication. To assist them they were given understanding of the mysteries of God and the Kingdom of God (Mk. 4:11). The Holy Spirit was the mechanism by which this was done.


For the wisdom of God is spoken in a mystery (1Cor. 2:7), which is explained by the servants of God (1Cor. 2:7; 15:51). For God's will is explained as a mystery (Eph. 1:9) which God gave to His servants by revelation.


Further, the mystery is in the stewardship of Christ through the elect.  Paul wrote:

Ephesians 3:2-6...assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that is, how the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.


Paul was given the grace

 ... to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all men see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose which he has realised in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confidence of access through our faith in him. (Eph. 3:8b-12)


Paul asked them not to lose heart over his suffering, which was their glory.


Ephesians 3:14  For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, ...

The word family here is patria which is fatherhood and is the meaning of Isaiah 9:6 where Christ is named Everlasting Father. There were many fatherhoods in heaven among the angels, even though they did not reproduce, because they were organised in groups based upon the principles of agape love represented in fatherhood.


The Kingdom of God was given to humanity as a lump of leaven. The Holy Spirit was the lump which leavened the whole lump of the human being, both individually and collectively.


Each of us was called to an understanding of the deep things of God (1Cor. 2:10) through the Holy Spirit. We cannot turn back. The world will not listen to very much of what we say. Indeed some who purport to be Christians are attempting to deny the very literal intent of the revelation of God. We increasingly hear the statement that the Bible is just earth talk. We do not hear this just from infidels, but from those who once held the highest ranks on this planet, namely they were elders of the Churches of God. Why do they say this? They say it because they are blind guides. They do not understand the implications of what is being given to them to teach. By failing to stand for the truth, they have consigned themselves to the Second Resurrection. What little they did understand is being taken away from them. This applies to all of the elect. The examination of this era is now, and the subject is the God we worship. The foolish virgins are failing their exams with alarming speed and in great numbers.


We need to examine our position with fear and trembling. Everyone has a reason for burying their dead; a reason for not facing the reality of the calling God has given them. We have heard them all.

·      Jesus Christ will work this out.

·      This is God's government and whatever they say is correct or it will be corrected.

·      God raised them up and authority comes from God.


Look at Daniel 6:2-28. The people who put Daniel in the lions’ den said that he had a government problem because he chose to obey God rather than Nebuchadnezzar whom God had raised up. Nebuchadnezzar was, incidentally, sent mad for seven years (Dan. 4:32-37) to teach him and his offspring (Dan. 5:18-28) that God constitutes and allocates authority, not men who would seek to control the Spirit and the allocation of hierarchical authority, nor the men-pleasers and respecters of persons who follow in their wake. God is not a respecter of persons.

Acts 10:34-35 Truly I perceive that God is not a respecter of persons, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.


When false doctrine has been identified it must be exposed. If it cannot be rectified, those teaching or embracing the false doctrine must be abandoned. People have many seemingly valid reasons for continuing in such a position. Examples are:

·      I will wait until the right time: (whenever that has been determined);

·      I do not wish to offend this family member;

·      I want to get my personal life sorted out;

·      I want to do whatever personal thing or business is scheduled;

·      All my friends are wherever.


Some of the ministry allow wolves to attack the sheep rather than be exposed and place their job on the line. David and Christ are the examples the ministry should emulate.


1Samuel 17:34-36 Your servant used to keep sheep for his father; and when there came a lion or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and smote him and delivered it out of his mouth; and if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him and killed him. Your servant has killed both lions and bears and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.

David was prepared to be killed in the defence of the sheep entrusted to him by his father. Christ was killed in their defence. If we are not prepared for that we are not worthy of the Kingdom of God. What little importance is a job? God will feed us with ravens if necessary. He promises he who walks righteously and speaks uprightly etc. that his bread will be given him, his water will be sure (Isa. 33:16).


God called each of us into the Churches of God through the promulgation of literature that challenged the basis of our comfortable existence.


Let us look at the concept of the dead.

Luke 16:30-31  And he said, 'No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.'  He said to them, 'If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.'

This parable was against the Judaic religious system. Christ was prophesying that Judah would not repent even after he (Christ) was raised from the dead.


Luke 20:35-38 but those who are accounted worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry not are given in marriage, for they cannot die any more, because they are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to him.

The sons of God are termed the living for they are of the First Resurrection, coming under judgment now. Those of the general resurrection of the dead at the end of the Millennium come under judgment then. Those who turn back to the dead (the unconverted) and are not about their Father's business are consigned to the Second Resurrection. Their understanding is removed and they make stupid statements like: the Bible is just earth talk, or God is in everything like glass and wood and stone, or God is just pure thought.


Those of the resurrection are of the living.

Luke 24:5 and as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, 'Why do you seek the living among the dead?


Christ was raised as the first of the first-fruits.

Luke 24:46 'Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,


As disciples of Christ we should know these points as a matter of course. Do we need another sign to make us understand who Christ and God are? Do we not understand that Christ is the Son of God and not God as the Father is God?

John 2:22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.


It is the Father who raises the dead. The Son was given his life of and by the Father.


For as the Father raises the dead and gives life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. (Jn. 5:21)


'Truly, Truly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.' (Jn. 5:25)


After Christ was resurrected and ascended to the Father, the dead could live and we could be of the First Resurrection. Our fathers could not, except in rare examples.


Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. (Jn. 6:49)


Christ was the bread they did not have.

This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever. (Jn. 6:58)


It is not fitting to give the bread of the promise to those not of the calling (Mat. 15:26-27). But we must keep the word of Christ and obey the Laws of God.

John 8:52-53  The Jews said to him, 'Now we know that you have a demon, Abraham died, as did the prophets; and you say, 'If anyone keeps my word he will never taste death.'  Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died!  Who do you claim to be?'


Lazarus was given to represent us.

Then Jesus told them plainly, 'Lazarus is dead; (Jn. 11:14)


But the resurrection was through Christ.

Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, (Jn. 11:25)


Jesus said, 'Take away the stone.'  Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, 'Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.' (Jn. 11:39)


So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, 'Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. (Jn. 11:41)


The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with bandages, and his face wrapped with a cloth.  Jesus said to them, 'Unbind him, and let him go.' (Jn. 11:44)


We are the witnesses of the Lamb who was set aside to be crucified. Note John 12:1,9,17

Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. (Jn. 12:1)


When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came, not only to see Lazarus, who he had raised from the dead. (Jn. 12:9)


The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead bore witness. (Jn. 12:17)


We have an obligation to separate ourselves from the dead or uncalled, in the process of our worship, as they are in a state of ritual impurity. We are, nevertheless, in the world. The world seeks to lessen the impact of the Scriptures, as Christ had to be raised from the dead. He had to die.

John 20:9 for as yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.


This point was emphasised to the elect by Christ.

John 21:14 This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.


There is no doubt that it was God who ordered and achieved this and not Christ. From Acts 3:15, the authorities had

killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead.


We have authority from God through Christ. If we do not understand this we will lose that authority. We see from Acts 4 the worldly authorities were

annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. (Acts 4:2)


The disciples said:

be it know to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazereth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by him this man is standing before you well. (Acts 4:10)

The disciples did not claim Christ to be the God of our people and the object of worship. Christ was put to death but God raised him on the third day (not the second) and made him manifest.


Acts 10:41  not to all people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.

We are the witnesses, the chosen ones who eat and drink with Christ. It is not given to the world to understand. They are the dead. Let them bury their dead. Follow Christ now, not when it becomes convenient.