Jesus Challenges The Scribe

“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).

Superficially, Jesus’ expression “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” has nothing to do with the scribe’s confident words. In proverbial style He simply wanted to caution the man that even though He was God’s Son, His ministry did not include comfortable living—He actually had fewer amenities than some animals.

Christ wanted the scribe to assess the sincerity of his assertion. It’s easy to make a bold, impressive profession of loyalty, especially if you don’t first think about the cost of commitment. Early in His ministry, our Lord knew that many did not have a genuine faith: He “was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men. . . . He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man” (John 2:24–25). Many were committed only to the thrill of following Jesus around and seeing miracles performed, not to His Person and saving work. They were examples of the seed that had no root but fell away soon because of adversity (Matt. 13:5–6, 20–21).

Bible commentator R. C. H. Lenski once noted that people with eager but uncertain vows of allegiance to Christianity are like those who view “the soldiers on parade, the fine uniforms, and the glittering arms and [are] eager to join, forgetting the exhausting marches, the bloody battles, the graves, perhaps unmarked.”

Ask Yourself

Are we guilty of trying to make Christian faith so attractive that we disguise its demands and difficulties? What are the logical consequences of such a tactic on those who come to Christ without counting the cost?

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