Summary: A man comes and wants to follow Jesus, and Jesus gives Him an obscure answer about birds nests and foxes dens and about having no place to sleep! What is He saying? IF I AM TO BE A DISCIPLE (A CHRIST FOLLOWER) I CAN NEVER OWN MY OWN HOME?
Part 11 - Matthew 8:19-20 - DOES THAT MEAN I CAN’T OWN MY OWN HOME, LORD?
Here we go again! Jesus doing something totally unexpected! A man comes and wants to follow Him like the other disciples are following Jesus, and He gives him an obscure answer about birds nests and foxes dens and about having no place to sleep! What is He saying? IF I AM TO BE A DISCIPLE (A CHRIST FOLLOWER) I CAN NEVER OWN MY OWN HOME?
I have lived in a caravan park for a while, but even then I had a place to sleep. Julie and I once owned a home, or at least we were paying it off. We then sold it in order to go and train for the ministry. We still don’t own our own home. We live at present in our daughter and son-in-law’s home, with all our boxes in their garage. But no matter where we have lived, we have never been without a roof over our heads.
Matthew 8:19-20 (NLT) says "Then one of the teachers of religious law (came and) said to Him, "Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go." But Jesus replied, "Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay His head."
Another thing bothers me about this passage. Why would Jesus say He had nowhere to sleep? He had just been a guest in Peter’s house (Matthew 8:14). Wasn’t Peter willing to put Him up for the night? After all, He had healed Peter’s mother-in-law? (Matthew 8:15). You’d think Peter would be more than happy to have Him stay there. It’s not as if Peter held it against Jesus for healing her! Maybe Jesus didn’t want to live in the same house as Peter’s mother-in-law! Maybe He didn’t like the food she prepared! (only joking). Any number of people would have wanted Jesus to stay in their house. So what is this all about?
Is He just trying to discourage the religious leader from following Him? A little threatened perhaps? I don’t think so. Jesus is not being deceptive! Neither is He challenged by this man’s knowledge.
It is just like Jesus to do or say something unexpected. When a crowd gathers Jesus ignores them to go up to the top of the mountain with His disciples to teach them principles of leadership. When He heals a man with leprosy, He tells him to keep quiet about it. He shows care for the people who were considered to be the rejects of His time - He heals outcasts, people with leprosy, shows his respect for women by healing Peter’s mother-in-law and casts out demons from those who are oppressed. Now when someone wants to follow Him, He doesn’t give him a straight answer but talks about having no place to sleep or live. There has got to be something Jesus is trying to tell me about this. And it isn’t about living in poverty and not being able to own a house.
I THINK IT IS ABOUT LIVING BY FAITH AND ACKNOWLEDGING THAT EVERYTHING BELONGS TO GOD. This scribe - religious scholar, religious leader and all-around-big-knob, was attracted to Jesus and Jesus was laying on the line the COST OF DISCIPLESHIP.
Many of the scribes of the day didn’t like Jesus’ theology. They tried to trick him with theological questions. AT LEAST THIS MAN IS WILLING TO FOLLOW JESUS ANYWHERE HE WENT.
It seems to me that Jesus is saying, "Look, if you want to follow Me there’s no guarantees for your personal security and your personal luxuries. You’ll have to trust in God for everything and acknowledge that everything belongs to God."
Am I willing to pay this kind of price? Yes, Lord. DOES THAT MEAN I CAN NEVER OWN MY OWN HOME? Clearly not. Peter owned his own home. That’s not the point! THE POINT IS AM I WILLING TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT ALL I OWN IS NOT MINE BUT HIS. His to use for His purposes whenever He chooses.
DOES THIS MEAN I WILL LIVE IN POVERTY? THE PRINCIPLE IS NOT ABOUT LIVING WITH NOTHING BUT ABOUT LIVING FOR JESUS.
Many people quote only the first part of 2 Corinthians 8:9 "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor,..." and they say that we should be poor because Jesus became poor, but here’s what the verse actually goes on to say. The last part of that verse says "so that you through His poverty MIGHT BECOME RICH." Let’s be consistent with Scripture. The idea of this passage is that we are rich in Christ because He provides for us to be His servants.
Jesus gave up everything to follow His Father’s will. We give up everything to follow Jesus too and when we do that, rather than finding ourselves destitute, we find ourselves rich. Luke 18:29-30 (NIV) says "I tell you the truth," Jesus said to them, "no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much IN THIS AGE and, in the age to come, eternal life." Notice what this says we will "receive many times as much IN THIS AGE". This may or may not be in material things. Many times it is material things and money.