But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15
One day Jesus asked an unnamed someone to follow Him and tell others about the kingdom of heaven. The man replied something along the lines of "I'll be glad to, but first let me go and bury my father."
To most of us that sounds like a perfectly reasonable reply.
But, when Jesus heard the man's excuse, He responded, "Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:60b). Have you ever thought Jesus was being hard on that fellow? If that's been your opinion, let's set the record straight.
To do that you should know two things: First, back in Jesus' time the custom was to have an individual's funeral within 24 hours. If this man's father had died, he wouldn't have been talking to the Savior. He would have been making funeral plans.
Second, if this man's father had died, Jesus probably would have gone to the man's house and brought the dead dad back to life. But Jesus didn't do that. Why? The best answer is the man's father wasn't dead.
What the fellow was probably trying to say could be rewritten like this: "Lord, I will follow You, but first let me take care of my family obligations, You know, things like the anticipated death of my father. Then, someday, when that's done, I'm absolutely going to follow You and share Your Name with others."
When would that be? When would the man ever get around to witnessing? Yes, he would take care of his father's funeral when that time came; then there would be his wife's "honey-do" list, and there would be saving enough for the children's college ... and funding the retirement account.
In short, for this man, sharing the Savior was secondary.
The truth is there is always a multitude of excuses a Christian can make, a myriad of explanations he can give, to not share the Savior and the salvation He has won for us at the cost of His life. Many are tempted to say, "Absolutely, Lord. I am going to do some serious witnessing as soon as I can get around to it." Many have no problem saying, "Jesus, You're on my list. Please be patient."
That attitude is a sad one. Consider if Jesus had said, "Sure, humanity needs to be saved, and as soon as I get some free time, I'm going to do it. But right now I'm pretty busy."
Thankfully, Jesus didn't do that to us, and we shouldn't put our witnessing to Him on the back burner either. Understand, I'm not suggesting you sell everything you own and set out on a multi-year missionary journey.
On the other hand, I wonder if the Lord hasn't given you a person with whom you can share the Savior better than anyone else. If so, maybe this is the time to tell them of God's great love for them, which has come in the Person of Jesus.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I give thanks saving us was a priority for You. Grant we also may make the salvation of others a priority. When I witness, take away my fear, bless my words, and reclaim a lost soul. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries