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Matthew 8:18-22 – Two Would-be Followers

|| Luke 9:57-60

MT8:18 But when Jesus observed the crowd surrounding him he commanded [his disciples] to leave for the other side of [Lake Galilee]. MT8:19 And a scribe[1] approached Jesus, and said: “I will follow you anywhere you go.” MT8:20 Jesus told him, “Foxes[2] have dens and birds of the sky roasts,[3] but the Son of Humankind[4] has nowhere[5] to lay his head.” MT8:21 Then a different one of the disciples[6] said to Jesus, “Sir, permit me first to go and bury my father.”[7] MT8:22 But, Jesus told him, “Be following me[8] and let the dead bury their own dead.”[9]

[1] Scribe: The Greek is GRAMMATEUS, a grammarian, writer or copyist. The word occurs about 75 times in the Bible, beginning with Judges 5:14 (Compare 1 Chronicles 2:55; Ezra 4:8, 9, 17, 23). The group occur in Matthew, 22; Mark, 21; Luke, 14; John, 1; Acts, 3; 1 Corinthians, 1. The scribe may be learning or educated. The Hebrew sopherim were very dedicated to the precise hand-copying of the Scriptures. They counted not only the words but also the letters of the entire Hebrew Bible. They were associated with teachers of the Law and particularly the sect of the Pharisees. They could be called “Rabbi.” We would suspect their fingers blackened from much use of pen and ink. The older scribes much hunched over from labors and the penmanship table.

[2] Foxes: The animal lives in burrows underground which may be substantial. They are mentioned nine times in the Bible.

[3] Roasts: Note not “nests” but temporary places to spend the night.

[4] Son of Humankind: The Greek is HUIOS TOU ANTHROPOU and is most often rendered “Son of man.” There are several words for “man” and so we prefer to widen this word to mean “human” which may or may not include women as in “humankind” according to the context. The phrase is taken directly from Daniel 7:13 which was understood by the Jewish teachers to refer to the Messiah or even the Son of God (Compare Philo Judaea). The designation occurs about 180 times and is applied to Daniel and Ezekiel, most often in the Hebrew Bible to the latter prophet. The title occurs in Matthew, 31; Mark, 14; Luke, 25; John, 13; Acts, 1 and rarely elsewhere.

[5] Nowhere: Jesus has no permanent residence but is like Paul, “homeless.” (1 Corinthians 4:11) It is interesting to note when we see Jesus next sleeping: in the fishing boat during the storm. He is often seen spending the night outdoors even up to his final week. Such a person today would be considered a homeless street-person and shunned by genteel Christians.

[6] A different one of the disciples: Possibly one other than the twelve. It is interesting to note that this “disciples” wishes to “follow” Jesus. One might assume that is what being a disciple meant. It is possible the account means by this that the disciple wanted to become part of Jesus personal entourage which followed him everywhere.

[7] Bury my father: Many understand this to mean the disciple wished to return to his living father and wait until his death and burial and thereafter begin his following Jesus.

[8] Following me: Jesus does not include him among his closest disciples but encourages the man to continue to follow on this course.

[9] Dead bury their own dead: Those who are spiritually dead as children of Adam and have not taken up Nazarene discipleship. There were others who could bear this burden leaving the man free to follow if he so chose. Discipleship, particularly apostleship, were serious matters worthy of total commitment by a man. It is possibly the reason women were not invited to make this sacrifice, given their obligations as mothers.



Nazarene Commentary Matthew 4:23-25 – Kingdom Preaching and Healing Draws Crowds

Matthew 8:1-4 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Jesus a Miracle-working Son of God

Matthew 8:5-13 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Servant of Army Officer Healed

Matthew 8:14-17 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Jesus Heals Peter’s Mother-in-law


Additional reading

  1. A call easy to understand
  2. Discipleship to look at
  3. Discipleship way of life on the narrow way to everlasting life
  4. Breathing and growing with no heir
  5. Fellowship
  6. Salvation, trust and action in Jesus #3 as a Christian


Further related

  1. Matthew 8:18-22
  2. Following Jesus…
  3. Discipleship
  4. the cost of discipleship
  5. The Cost of (Non) Discipleship
  6. The cost of discipleship, peace, and division

Comments on: "Matthew 8:18-22 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Two Would-be Followers" (2)

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