Sunday, March 19, 2017

Matthew 8:19-20: The Son of man hath not where to lay his head

19 And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.
20 And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. (Matthew 8)

In this passage, Jesus is getting ready to depart the multitudes on a ship with his close disciples. A man tells him that he wants to be his disciple, and wants to follow him instead of remaining behind (verse 19). Jesus provides a very interesting reply in verse 20. The man, a scribe, had spent his whole life in consummate religious practice. Beyond living what he supposed was the law of Moses with zeal, he spent an inordinate amount of time memorizing and copying the rules that comprised his religion. Now, seeing greater light and truth in what the Lord taught, he sought to swap out the Master for meta-Moses, while leaving the scaffolding of his religious understanding intact. He was looking for another religion that he could live in the same way as he had lived Phariseeism, but with modified content.

The Lord Jesus' reply is wonderfully rich. He is telling the man that not only will the content need changing, the system itself is faulty. When a man follows the Lord Jesus, he must let go of the idea of a static religion. The Lord brings his true disciples up from one understanding to another. Climbing the next step up a ladder not only requires placing your hand on a higher rung, but also removing your foot from a lower rung.

The scribe said he wanted to follow Jesus wherever he went, but what he meant was that he wanted to follow him to the next landing. He wanted to shoehorn the gospel of Jesus Christ into the framework he had learned in Phariseeism, but God will not be put into a box. The gospel is progressive, and true disciples must be willing to let go of past traditions and systems in order to move forward.