Jump Start # 2042
Matthew 8:20 “Jesus said to him, ‘The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
Our verse today is interesting. It is the Lord’s reply to a scribe who declared that he would follow Jesus wherever He went. Noble claim. Bold claim. A statement he made without realizing where Jesus would go. There are some things we notice in Jesus’ reply.
First, He referred to Himself as “the Son of Man.” This was the first time that He did this. This seems to be borrowed from Daniel and has clear Messianic ties. Matthew uses that expression 28 times. The disciples referred to Jesus most times as “teacher.” Jesus referred to Himself most times as “Son of Man.” Jesus was God wrapped in the form of a man. He was like us, Hebrews tells us. He was tempted as we are. He walked, talked, ate and even looked like His fellow man. Unlike what the Masterpieces pictured Him, Jesus didn’t have a halo above His head. When Judas came to betray Jesus, the sign of which one to arrest was a kiss. Why was that necessary? Why not grab the one with the halo? There was no halo. Why not grab the one that looked divine? He didn’t look divine. The emphasis of Jesus was not in the way He looked, but in what He did and more so, in what He said.
Second, Jesus understood that He had no regular place of residence. The birds fly about during the day but they return to their nests. The foxes may go out seeking food, but they return to their den or holes. There is a common place for them. You and I are like that. We have our beds at night. We have our pillows. Most of us sleep the best in our own beds. When traveling, the beds are not the same as at home. The pillows are hard. The beds are uncomfortable. We like having a regular place to sleep each night. Jesus didn’t have that. He didn’t have a home. “The Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” I thought about that expression as I lay in my bed. Jesus at this point was traveling with the apostles. Thirteen men. If thirteen men showed up at my home, most of them would be sleeping on the floor. I don’t have enough beds and couches and I doubt that I have enough pillows for thirteen. Homes back then were not the size of our homes today. We could put some on the floor with blankets and they would have a roof over their heads.
Where did Jesus sleep? We are not told. He may have stayed a few times with Mary, Martha and Lazarus, but it would be hard to imagine all thirteen staying there. Did he sleep in barns? Did he sleep in the outdoors? Did he use inns? The point Jesus was making to this scribe who wanted to follow Him, is that His life was not of ease and comfort. Practical things, such as where will we sleep tonight, was a concern. There wasn’t a common stopping place. There wasn’t a zip code for Jesus’ home base. There was no home base.
Again, this brings us to the humble status of the Son of Man. He was God on earth, but He sure didn’t live like a God. The queen does better than He did. No palace. No servants. No royal treatment. No coachmen. No guards. No closet full of clothes. No pantries full of food. On the move. Different places all the time. No place to lay His head. Most of us, after a week of vacation, are ready to get back home to our own beds. The trip was fun, but we sure miss home. Jesus didn’t have that. He didn’t have a favorite chair to sit in. He didn’t have a favorite cup to drink from. He didn’t have the comforts that you and I enjoy and take for granted. Why? Why did He not have those things? That wasn’t His point. That wasn’t why He was here. That wasn’t His mission.
He lived humble. He did without. No fingers could be pointed towards a spoiled or plush life. No one could accuse Him of materialism. No one could say that He was pampered nor took advantage of others. He had no place to lay His head. He came to serve. He came to save.
Now, think about this. Jesus may have worn the same garments most of the time. You and I change clothes every day. Some times, we change more than once in a day. Our closets are so large that we call them “walk-in closets.” We need the space. We have summer clothes, fall clothes, spring clothes and outfits for winter. We have jackets and heavy coats. We have shoes for all occasions. We have several suit jackets, multiple ties and in my case, drawers full of fancy socks. We have enough that we could clothe Jesus and all the apostles and still have plenty left over. That’s our world. We take that for granted. For Jesus, having no place to lay His head, I doubt He pulled a trunk full of clothes everywhere He went. He probably wore the same clothes over and over.
There is nothing in the Gospels that make us believe that Jesus was a person of wealth. He pulled a coin out of a fish’s mouth to pay the tax. Wealthy women supported them financially. His time was not spent with the upper crust of society. He was with the common man. He was with the social outcasts. He was with the sick and diseased. He was with everyday people.
Jesus did these things by choice. It was His character, His nature, that attracted people. It wasn’t what He was wearing. It wasn’t that He was a superstar status. Fine dressed people sitting in fancy church buildings seems a long way from Jesus sitting in a boat teaching the multitudes. Maybe we have put so much emphasis upon appearance and what’s on the outside, that we have forgotten what’s on the inside. Nice dressed people who have sharp tongues and are quick to point a judgmental finger at those who differ with them are not the same as that humble Son of Man who loved and cared for all people.
What a contrast to Jesus. Our homes are larger and larger. We have garages that can fit multiple cars. We have so much stuff that we must put the excess in storage sheds. And, we have given so little attention to what’s in our hearts. Our country is falling apart on the inside. Hatred, prejudice, fear, worry and self are consuming us. We have forgotten about character. We have forgotten about what really matters. We can fill our lives with more and more stuff and still feel emptier and emptier on the inside. We try to believe that success comes from the labels of our watches, cars and clothes, but that doesn’t make us feel successful. And standing before us, the simple Son of Man, who had no place to lay His head.
That simple expression, no place to lay His head, bothers us more than it bothered Him. We would want to fix that somehow. We’d want to load a bunch of stuff in His arms. We want to fill shopping bags full of items. But what He was really interested in was what’s running on the inside of us. What are we thinking about. What are we bothered about. What are we seeking.
The monastics of the middle ages thought the answer was to rid themselves of all material possessions. They lived in cages, refused to groom themselves and were hermits and outcasts. They missed it. It wasn’t the outside changes that found what Jesus had. It’s the inside. It’s the peace that comes from salvation. It’s hope that lies with God. It’s living with a purpose and a plan. It’s walking daily with God.
Is it wrong to have a place to lay our heads? Is it wrong to have stuff? Is it wrong to own cars, TV’s and closets full of clothes? The question is do we have those things or do those things have us? Are we defined by stuff? Do we get our satisfaction and self worth by stuff? Has our stuff replaced God? Then it’s an issue.
Abraham, Job, David, Joseph of Arimathea were all wealthy but more so, spiritual men of God. Their success was not in what they had but in who had them. They walked with the Lord.
Jesus had no place to lay His head. Be thankful that you do. Actually, be thankful! Use your blessings to glorify God and help others. Don’t become stingy nor stuck up because of what you have. Be humble. Be like Jesus. Don’t be obsessed with your stuff. Become obsessed with God. Be absorbed with God. Fill your time and your life with God.
Much to think about…