Luke 9:59-60 Death and Burials

And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord,

suffer me first to go and bury my father.

Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead:

but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.


            Burial in the East is not nearly the expensive affair that it is in the West. The Easterners believe that since the soul has departed, the body that is left knows nothing anyway, so it is not thought necessary to spend money on it.

            A typical Eastern burial is described in the twelfth chapter of Ecclesiastes. This is the chapter which begins:

Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;

            Most of the rest of the chapter is a continuation of this thought, describing old age and death:

While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain:


In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble [a figure of speech meaning one's feet], and the strong men shall bow themselves [knees], and the grinders cease because they are few [teeth], and those that look out of the windows be darkened [eyes].

And the doors shall be shut in the streets [ears], when the sound of the grinding is low [not much grain to grind for meal] and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird [even a bird call frightens him], and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low [his voice is no longer strong.]

Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high [afraid of falling from high places], and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish [the almond tree in bloom looks like a white-headed old person], and the grasshopper shall be a burden [weakness of flesh; unable to do much] desire shall fail [no appetite], because man goeth to his long home [grave], and the mourners go about the streets.


            The mourners going about the streets is indeed an apt description , since the whole town turns out whenever a funeral is being held. Easterners think they do a service to God in participating; even a prince will attend the funeral of a beggar of his town for this reason. Jesus said [Luke 9:59], "Follow me," and the young man replied, "Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father." (This is an old saying which means, my father is old and I do not know when he will die; let me see him buried before I come.) Jesus replied, "Let the dead bury the dead." This is a mistranslation and should read, "Let the town bury the dead," a very understandable saying when one realizes that the whole town does take part in funerals.

Bishop K.C. Pillai, D.D.

Anthony Gilmore,
May 3, 2012, 12:36 PM