Luke 9:59

ESV To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”
NIV He said to another man, 'Follow me.' But he replied, 'Lord, first let me go and bury my father.'
NASB And He said to another, 'Follow Me.' But he said, 'Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.'
CSB Then he said to another, "Follow me.""Lord," he said, "first let me go bury my father."
NLT He said to another person, 'Come, follow me.' The man agreed, but he said, 'Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.'
KJV And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.

What does Luke 9:59 mean?

Luke is presenting another flashback to further explain what Jesus requires of His disciples. In the previous example, a scribe wanted to follow Jesus and Jesus told him he would have to give up the luxury of house and bed (Luke 9:57–58; Matthew 8:19). In this case, Jesus personally invites a man to come along with Him.

Culturally, the man's request is honorable. Caring for one's parents is a significant tenet both in Judaism and later in Christianity. Scholars debate over what the man means by "burying" his father. If his father has just died and needs to be embalmed and placed in a tomb, the man will be made unclean for a week to fulfill the purification process (Numbers 19:11). If his father is on his deathbed, he'll have to wait for the death and then perform the purification process. It's possible, however, the man is referring to the completion of the burial process. When someone died, they were wrapped in aromatic herbs and placed in a tomb. After a year during which the bugs ate the flesh, the bones were removed and placed in an ossuary—a stone box—which was permanently placed in the family tomb.

The man may even have meant, "I want to wait until my father has died," either to avoid upsetting his family or to simply wait for a more convenient time.

Jesus' response is scandalous. The man has the responsibility of ensuring his father is properly buried. Jesus tells him: Let someone else do it; following Me takes precedence over even the most honorable family obligation (Luke 9:60). Only the Messiah, the Son of God, could make such a demand.

Matthew identifies this man as "another of the disciples" (Matthew 8:21). We tend to think of the disciples as just the Twelve, but larger groups did periodically travel with Jesus.
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