Matthew 8: 18-22
The Scribe who approached Jesus and stated “I will follow you wherever you go”, is reminded by Jesus in His reply that discipleship is indeed costly. Jesus, the Son of man “has nowhere to lay His head.” There are demands and sacrifices placed upon us when we make that decision to follow Jesus. Discipleship can at times and in periods of our life be challenging and formidable. Jesus does not deceive us. He clearly demonstrates the true nature of discipleship.
Another man says “let me go and bury my father first” and Jesus retorts “follow me and leave the dead to bury their dead”. This appears to be rather harsh. The fourth commandment expects us to honour our fathers and mothers. Burial was seen in Jesus’s time as a sacred duty and for us as Christians, a corporal act of mercy. Discipleship is based on imitation of Jesus and therefore we should not be hesitant in following Jesus. Our allegiance to Jesus and to the Gospel is always of greater importance and outweighs even family commitments.
The reference to the dead burying their dead is simply a way of expressing the difference between the spiritually alive and the spiritually dead. The spiritually dead are those who cling to the earthly and worldly things and not so much to the heavenly and divine things of God. Jesus is not literally saying that we do not bury our loved ones or carry out our family duties of caring for them. To be a disciple in the true sense of the word, Jesus has to come first, in all things.
The Prophet Amos
Amos was called to be a Prophet by God between 760 BC and 755 BC, during the reigns of King Jeroboam 11 and King Uzzziah. He had been a tree surgeon, a shepherd farmer, before his calling. He is what is called a Minor Prophet, a term given to those prophets whose books are shorter than the Major Prophets, whose books are longer. It is does not mean that he is lesser or not as important as the other prophets.
Although he was from Southern Israel, he preached in Northern Israel. The Book of Amos is only 9 short chapters but the message that he has to share is serious. Although by all appearances all is well, there is economic wealth, military power, national optimism and an over all contentment, God the Father is displeased. Amos challenges the Northern Kingdom’s greed, their religious infidelity, their lust, their materialism, their lack of social justice, their arrogance and pride. They are warned to take notice or everything they hold precious will collapse.
His name means burden or burden bearer, as he must announce dooms. Yet God will never abandon Israel and Israel will not die. (Amos 9:8) When history ends, the church founded on Peter will still be around as will Israel (Rom 11).