Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

New Perspective - Matthew 8:18-20 - Foxes have Dens

Matthew 8:18--"When Jesus saw large crowds around Him, He gave the order to go to the other side of the sea. 19 A •scribe approached Him and said, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go!” 20 Jesus told him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.”

This has traditionally been a difficult passage.  Some have proposed that this statement is saying that Jesus was homeless and poor.  In one sense this is true but in another not.

Jesus was homeless by choice not by tragic circumstances.

Other translations use "teachers of the law".

There was something in this culture that I believe adds to this passage.  Famous Rabbis or teachers would attract disciples that would sit under their teaching.  The more followers, the more prestige and their followers would defend the betterness of their teacher they were sitting under.  So it was an honor for this man to come to Jesus to ask to be His disciple, but it was also a boost to the man's own reputation to say he sat under the popular teacher Jesus.

But in order to join or be accepted by a teacher, the candidate typically brought money to buy their way in.  A popular teacher could make a good living.  In order to gain more followers, these teachers would want to be easily found and work from a base of operations to spread their influence.  It could become a cushy life.

 It made me think that this man was likely not empty handed in approaching Jesus.  Jesus wasn't just turning down the man, he was turning down his money.  Jesus was turning down the culturally expected life of an established teacher.

If the man was himself a scribe or teacher of the law, he may have been expecting that pattern to continue under Jesus.  I also suspect that the man was wealthy and used to his own cushy life.

That's when Jesus hits him with a simple truth.  “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head."

In other words, following Me will not lead to the cushy life with a big house and comfortable bed.  He's not setting up a base of operations--He is going to the Cross.  If you want to follow Jesus, He will sometimes lead you through the valley of the shadow of death--but He will bring you through to the other side in Victory.

To me, this statement flies in the face of the health & wealth gospel, aka name it & claim it, blab it & grab it,  covet & love it.

This man was handing Jesus a "check" full of money.  Jesus didn't want a Rolls Royce or a private plane, another mansion or a Hawaii vacation.  He turned the man away in much the same way that Peter turned away Simon the Sorcerer's offer of money in Acts 8:18-23.

The Gospel has never been about money or the promise of riches.  Faith is not a means to greater wealth and Jesus is not delaying the Second Coming because "you don't got your money" as I heard Jesse Duplantis claim back in the 1990's at a church in Austin, TX (that was the last straw and my family and I finally walked out).

Faith is about a willingness to give up your own wants and comforts in order to live for the Kingdom.  It may mean turning down more money in order to be where God wants you to be.

Are you the man or woman willing to give up the money and creature comforts to follow Jesus or are you the one who walks away from Him for not providing it?

Money don't buy you love... nor salvation.

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