Strong Profession Is Not Always Sincere

“Then a scribe came and said to Him, ‘Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.’ 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’” (Matthew 8:19–20).

The issue of commitment is one to be evaluated very carefully. The scribe here was an authority on Jewish law and a close ally of the Pharisees. As such he would have broken with his allies had he become one of Jesus’ true disciples. He knew a decision like that would be costly, and thus he might have been testing Jesus’ reaction to his words.

Normally the scribes were teachers, not followers of other teachers. And one such as this man would have been reluctant to follow a rabbi like Jesus, who was not from the scholarly class, not educated in a rabbinic school, and not loyal to Jewish religious traditions.

For this scribe to address Jesus as he did was quite out of the ordinary and probably impressive to the apostles and the crowds, since he issued the claim as a Jewish leader. It’s not certain that the man ever really believed in Jesus, but he probably felt sincere in his own mind with what he professed. He was likely just as convinced as Peter that he would always follow the Lord (Matt. 26:33, 35), but neither could be sure about that, as Peter’s temporary denial illustrates.

Unlike today’s evangelical church, always eager to instantly embrace a prominent person who professes Christ, Jesus knew that every strong profession does not necessarily translate to strong commitment. Hence He compared His living situation to the foxes and birds as a testing of the man’s true dedication, which ought to be a self-examining device for us too.

Ask Yourself

Think of the bold promises you’ve made to the Lord before and the many times you’ve failed to follow through. Have your past inabilities kept you from making such statements anymore? Is that what God wants you to learn from these experiences?

From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008.