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The Hesitating Disciple (21, 22).

This case is one of the opposite description. Judging from the way in which the scribe had been dealt with, it might have been expected that when this disciple asked to be excused for a time, in order to discharge a duty which seemed so urgent, the answer would have been one not only allowing but even enforcing the delay. But no. Why the difference? Again, because the Master saw "what was in man." This was no impulsive, impetuous nature which needed a word of caution; 115 but one of those hesitating natures which need to be summoned to immediate decision. It would seem also, from the peculiar expression, "Leave the dead to bury their own dead" (R.V.), that he belonged to an ungodly family, to associate again with whom at such a critical time in his history would be most prejudicial; and it must be remembered that it would not have been the mere attending of the funeral; there were the laws of uncleanness, which would oblige him, if he went, to stay many days; and meantime the golden opportunity might be gone.

Thus are we guarded against the two opposite dangers—the one besetting the eager and impulsive, the other the halting and irresolute. In neither case are we told what the result was. We may surmise that the scribe disappeared from view, and that the other joined the party in the boat; but "something sealed the lips of that Evangelist"; from which we may perhaps infer that his main object in relating the two incidents was, not to give information of them, but to show forth the glory of the Master as the Searcher of hearts, to signalise the fact that He was no less Master of the minds than of the bodies of men.

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