Homeless (Matthew 8:18-20)

Photo by Laura Ockel on Unsplash

Matthew writes, “When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the   other side of the lake. Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” ” 

Jesus sees the crowd and determines to move. His followers must not only come to Him as the crowds have done, they must actually follow Him wherever He goes. One man – a teacher of the law – does this. He follows Jesus. He approaches Jesus and tells Him that he’ll go wherever Jesus goes. One would think that to be the best possible response. But Jesus’ response is not that the teacher ‘gets it’. Actually, the fact that this particular teacher calls Jesus, “Teacher” instead of “Lord” (as the leper has just done, and as the centurion has just done) is a tip-off that this man doesn’t ‘get it’. He hasn’t fully committed himself to Jesus, in spite of his profession of faith. 

Knowing this, Jesus replies with a statement of the obvious that everyone could get; Foxes have dens to sleep in, and birds have nests to return to, but the savior of humankind has no home of His own. Following Jesus means sacrifice, and the first sacrifice to be made is one’s own comfort.

What crushing news that must have been to the teacher Jesus is speaking to. We never hear of this man again in Matthew’s account. Perhaps he was hoping for a different response – perhaps he was expecting some encouragement for having done and said the right thing. But Jesus is not looking for outward obedience without inward regeneration. Recall that earlier He said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” 

Jesus’ reply to the teacher of the law about foxes and birds is a colorful way of saying that the bar is much higher than simply following Him around the globe. Groupies follow someone for the sake of enjoyment – to enjoy their presence, fellowship and at least a hint of their lifestyle. Jesus is not looking for mere groupies. Jesus is looking for followers who commit to a lifestyle of sacrifice for the glory of God.

This short episode in Christ’s ministry is another death knell to the prosperity gospel movement. It is anathema to think that following Jesus by faith results in huge homes, yachts, nice cars and a cushy bank account. The luxuries of life may come to some, but they are certainly not a product of discipleship. If they were, the Jesus of the Bible would’ve had many very large homes! Rather, the reward of faith is Jesus Himself. Those who seek mere material things may gain them (or not), but even if they do, they gain only that which is burned up in the end. Jesus is eternal. He is the source of all value and all meaning. He Himself is the best reward, and by His grace, He can be found by all who purpose to follow Him wholeheartedly.

We may be selected and fully set apart for God, yet we can gather quite a bit of travel dust on our way to the altar of complete sacrifice. Will we offer a dirty sacrifice to God?

Keith Drury

APPLICATION: Intentionality

The Lord calls us to be living sacrifices for His glory. The choice to live a lifestyle of sacrifice is a daily choice. Choose wisely. 

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