How to See Whether Living or Dead?


What is the difference between being alive or dead in a spiritual sense?

Matthew 8:21-22

Another of the disciples said to Him, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.”

Jesus can see who is alive and who dead among the breathing. Can we also come to understand this? Is it something beyond intellectual effort but something you know by the Spirit? As we hope to be able to bring to life the dead and be alive ourselves, how do we know?

Also would I be mislead to think that leaving the dead to buy the dead would cause the dead to hunger for the life when no one at the funeral has the Word to speak over them? As in leaving the question to those gathered, “Where is the love?”.


I mean “living Word”.


Jesus answered this:

We are either alive for Jesus,


Dead in our sins.

Jesus spoke of this lots of times:
He called the Pharisees “walking corpses” because of their sinfulness.
Jesus said in the parable of the prodigal son,
“Your brother was lost, but now he is found.
He was dead, but now he is alive.”

Also St Paul spoke.of it:
"Our old sinful self has died in Christ,
Our new self has Risen with Him.

So it is no longer we who live,
But Christ who lives in us."

We must die to sinfulness, and live in Christ.

Just as all sin was crucified in Jesus and Jesus was Risen glorified,
We must put our sins to death on the cross (confession, repentance, good works), and rise in Christ (communion, prayer, a life in the Holy Spirit.)


“Let the dead bury the dead” is not a general command. The general command of God was that we should bury the dead, and it’s one of the seven corporal acts of mercy.

However, in the case of this one disciple, Jesus knew better and commanded better. We don’t know why, but we can be sure He had a good reason.

Jesus’ audience would have understood; they knew the story of how the prophet Elijah called Elisha to be his successor as a prophet:

1 Kings 19:19 –

"So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him.

Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”

“Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”

And Elisha went back and took the yoke of oxen and sacrificed them, and boiled their flesh by setting the oxen’s harness on fire, and he gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and went after Elijah and assisted him."

Elisha was worried enough about following Elisha that he didn’t go back any farther than the field, but Jesus had a more urgent mission than Elijah had. It was okay to ask, but obviously there wasn’t time to stay for a funeral.

(And really? A Jewish funeral takes something like a week, and the mourners are usually secluded at home. What was that guy doing outside rubbernecking at Jesus, if his dad was dead and he really cared about him?)


I believe that Jesus meant, that those who live, who do not have His Holy Spirit by receiving the sanctifying grace which causes us to be reborn from sin into the new life, are spiritually dead. You see the Holy Spirit was yet to be given because Jesus was not as yet glorified He had to die for our new life in grace. No greater love has a person, than to give his life for another, and this Jesus did. Jesus always had in mind the salvation of all people, this was His mission. We are all dead without the grace of God, through Jesus. We are referred to as the “walking dead” without this grace of eternal salvation.


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