No Turning Back

Another of his disciples said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.'” – Matthew 8: 21-22

This is one of those stories that makes me think Jesus would not have done well in pastoral ministry.

He says, “Follow me.” A disciple answers, “Hold on, let me go and bury my father. Then I’ll come.”

“Follow me,” insists Jesus, “and let the dead bury their own dead.” Wow. That’s harsh.

But notice the way Jesus puts it, “Let the dead bury their own dead.” It isn’t just the fulfillment of a filial duty that is at stake.

There are moments, aren’t there, when as Paul says, the old has passed away and the new has come. Moments when being a disciple means you can’t go back, you just can’t. Jesus moments.

Rachael Denhollander was the first woman to come forward to tell the truth about Dr. Larry Nasser’s sexual abuse of female gymnasts. Doing so proved costly. It cost her, among other things, her church. Church elders counseled “forgiveness,” by which they meant, “Let it go, say nothing.”

When asked by an interviewer for the magazine Christianity Today what she had learned from the whole experience Denhollander said,

“Obedience costs. It means that you have to speak out against your own community. It will cost to stand up for the oppressed, and it should. If we’re not speaking out when it costs, then it doesn’t matter to us enough.”


Lord, I’ve sung, “I have decided to follow Jesus / No turning back.” Help me to live it. Amen.

ddrobinson.jpgAbout the Author
Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher, and writer. He is the author of many books, including What’s Theology Got to Do With It: Convictions, Vitality and the Church. You can read Tony’s “Weekly Meditation” and “What’s Tony Thinking?” at his website,