“As they were walking along the road, a man said to him [Jesus], ‘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.’” – Luke 9:57-58 NIV
So, let’s be honest. This passage has never really meant very much to me. My “in-depth exegesis” of this verse has basically been “following Jesus is hard.” However, the other day as I was moving from one friend’s house to another for a few days – until I moved to yet another friend’s house (for a total of at least 4 places in less than two months), it really started to gain much more meaning. Home is where you go when you’ve had a rough day. It is where you go when you feel like the world is out to get you – whether it’s because of something that happened or because of something in your own mind. You go there and you feel safe. You feel like you have some control over some aspect of your surroundings. You don’t feel exposed.
Jesus didn’t have this. From what I can assume, Jesus relied on God for all of this. This is pretty impressive to me. Sure, I like to think that I trust in God. I like to pray “give us this day our daily bread,” but I would just assume have my daily bread planned out ahead of time. I’d rather be able to go to my hole and feel safe. I really think that what he was telling the man wasn’t “yeah, life will be tough” as much as “following me means rejecting this world – all of it.” I wonder how often Jesus slept outside. I assume from reading the gospels that he often stayed with friends that welcomed him into their homes, but I’m sure that there were nights spent outside as well. We read of him praying all night in the garden of Gethsemane. How often did he spend the entire night out there praying, and how often did he spend the night there actually sleeping? Did Jesus ever move on from a location because he felt like he had overstayed his welcome? Since Jesus doesn’t ever seem to pull any punches, I’m sure there were lots of times that he told someone the truth, and they were offended by it – I wonder how often this happened when he was staying with people; and how often he got kicked out because of it.
I could ponder on that for a long time, but instead I’ll point out another aspect of not having a hole. As a more experienced Christian in my life pointed out to me the other day, “stuff [possessions] burdens you down.” He’s right. (This is relevant because you don’t really own much stuff if you don’t have a home to put it in.) There are many ways in which stuff can be a burden. When was the last time you flew somewhere? How much did you pack? Wasn’t it a pain to haul that stuff all over the airport (or even to the check-in desk)? That’s not the only way that stuff is a burden. What about when you move? There’s a reason that people throw away so much stuff right before they move. I think Jesus knew all of this. That’s why he didn’t own things – it allowed him to be free from worries about belongings. Possessions really cut both ways. They are often used for comfort in our society (I’m sure I’m not the only one who has ever bought something because I had a bad day, or because I figured it would make me better in some shallow way). However, owning all of these things is also a very heavy burden mentally. How often did you worry about everything you had being stolen in college? I know that I never bothered locking my door (except when I slept) for 4 years of college. Now? I lock(ed) it all the time. The more you have, the more you’re worried about not having it. Now, I’m as guilty as anyone else about materialism (before the tornado I had around 200 board games, and I’m sure that soon enough I’ll have close to that many again). It’s really just something to think about when buying more and more of whatever the latest thing is.
So, to pretend to wrap this thought up – I’m way more impressed with Jesus and how he lived and performed his ministry than I ever have been before. I just can’t even put into words how intimidating it is to even think about not having a home, and knowing that you won’t have a home for the rest of your life! (And what about Paul with his missions… I wonder if he was actually a bit relieved when he went to prison and at least knew where he was going to sleep and had a roof over his head….. but I can ponder on that later.)