Summary: An Easter message focused on the meaning of resurrection for the here and now.


Luke 9:57-62 (focus v. 60)

“Let the dead bury their own dead.”


This statement is one of the most radical statements that Jesus ever made. And He made many.

He called a man to follow him. The man’s response is that he must first see to it that his father receives a proper burial. It’s important to understand that his father was not dead at the time. The man is saying that he must first fulfill his obligation to his father. Then he will follow.

Within Judaism, the duty to bury one’s father was one of the most sacred obligations. Sabbath laws were set aside in honor of burying one’s father.

The statement of Jesus is radical because it calls upon the son to disregard his family obligations. The call to follow is the call to set aside all of the conventions of normal life. Nothing is to be more important than God. Jesus placed God before all human relationships. (Matt 6:33).


Listen again to the words of Jesus to this man: “Let the dead bury their own dead.”

“The dead” here refers to those who appear to be alive, but are actually dead. They are living dead. They are dead and don’t know it. The world apart from God is dead.



The words of Jesus are both an indictment and an invitation. This text speaks of those who are dead but it also offers the affirmation that there is a way to leave the land of the dead.

The man to whom Jesus was speaking was one of the living dead. Jesus invited him to come into the land of the living. He refused.


Death as a metaphor for a way of living is found in a number of places in the New Testament.

READ: Ephesians 2:1-6 (KJV)

1And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

These verses clearly refer to people who were alive in some sense of the word. Their hearts were beating. They were breathing. They were walking about. But the Bible says they were dead until God in His grace quickened them.

The word quicken (KJV) is an old word for “make alive.”

The Bible divides people into those two groups – the living and the dead.

You have either been quickened – made alive – or you are dead.

• Are you alive or dead?

The New Testament Greek has two words for life – bios and zoe. Bios refers to biological life (biology). Zoe refers to something more. Spiritual life – Life that only comes through the power of the Holy Spirit – the quickening.

Rom. 8:9 (NRSV)

9Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

• Are you alive or dead?


Death as a metaphor for a way of living appears in the story of the prodigal son. Twice the prodigal’s father describes the prodigal as having been dead: “This son of mine was dead” – “this brother of yours was dead” (Luke 15:24,32).

Obviously the prodigal was “alive” while he was in “the far country.” But life in “the far country” was the equivalent of being dead.

According to the Bible we can be dead though alive.

• Are you alive or dead?



The story of the raising of Lazarus in John 11 is a story about the way to the land of the living.

REFER TO: John 11:1-44.

I fully accept the story of Lazarus as factual. He became ill and died. He was buried. Jesus raised the dead man to life. He quickened him.

In a sense Lazarus is “Everyman” – bound and entombed – or as Paul said, “Dead in trespasses and sin.”

There is only one way out of death - Jesus.

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life.”

Notice the present tense of this statement. Jesus doesn’t say, “I will be, at some far distant future date, be the resurrection and life.”

He said, “I AM” . . .

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