Sunday, November 12, 2017
Was Jesus Homeless?
Something that has come across my path from time to time in various ways is the idea that Jesus was a homeless person. This is used to make Him "relate-able" to homeless people, but I think it is primarily intended to make Christians feel guilty about how they treat the homeless.
Ministering to the poor is an important duty. It is mentioned in the New Testament a number of times. We also see God having pity upon the poor and encouraging us to do so over and over in scripture.
Galatians 2:10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.
Proverbs 19:17 He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.
Psalm 9:17-18 The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God. For the needy shall not alway be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.
But, in our zeal to acknowledge the suffering of the homeless it is not appropriate to misrepresent the Lord Jesus Christ.
The thing is that Jesus wasn't homeless. I think that people get the idea He was from this verse:
Matthew 8:20 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.
He had nowhere to lay His head on this earth, but heaven was still His home. He left His home to come and save us.
John 14:2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
It was still his father's house, and it was His home. He voluntarily gave up the comforts of His home to be a servant, to walk in the dirt and grime of this world, and to minister; ultimately to bring us eternal salvation. He endured many privations, the suffering of life on this earth, and the horrible death of the cross so that He could make heaven our home too!
John 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
1 Peter 2:21-25 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.
Because Jesus Christ did all that for us, we are called to follow His example.
We are also told to be content with food and raiment.
1 Timothy 6:6-8 But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
If you don't have a house, or a car, or a bank account, or property, but only the clothes on your back and some "daily bread," you still have a home if your are a child of God by faith in Jesus Christ. Your home is heaven.
Oh, that is so easy to say and so terribly hard to live out in real life. I have heard and read of believers who were actually homeless and living on the street. This may happen for a number of reasons, and war and persecutions have been two that have caused this throughout the history of the church. In ancient Rome during the severe persecutions a lot of Christians even lived in the tombs under the city - the catacombs, as they are called (which takes some of the awfulness off of the face of it because that word isn't commonly used).
Hebrews 11:37-38 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
My own family was once "homeless" for a few months when a man told my dad to move to California because he had a job and a house for him there. My dad loaded us up (we were four total at the time) and we drove out west from Michigan, only to discover that there was no job and no house. We were just about 7 months home from the missionfield at the time and my dad had thought this was God's leading, so it must have hit him pretty hard. Well, it was the Lord's will, but we had to wait for three months. Thankfully, the man who got us into the mess opened his home for us to live in, but those were difficult days. [Eventually the Lord opened up a place for my dad to serve as a pastor. It was his first pastorate and possibly his best, but we had to go through that trial of not having an earthly home of our own to get there. And, by the way, pastors who live in parsonages do not own "homes" anyway. We lived in that situation for many years.]
I have also known missionaries who lived in very limited situations - in tiny cinder block houses, in a small space within a church building or Bible Institute building, in tiny apartments, in mud houses, in jungle huts, etc. None of them were places they could really call their own. This is part of following the example of Jesus Christ to do His will.
These are the sort of things that happen sometimes to pilgrims who are on a journey to their eternal home. Because we are not called to have nice houses and comfortable lives all the time, or even most of the time in some cases, we often learn to look more hopefully and joyfully to the future home in heaven. Probably this is what the Lord intends by allowing these situations. But no matter the circumstances, we are never really "homeless" and even the best that this world has to offer should be nothing but a temporary dwelling place for us while we "...look for a city that hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." Hebrews 11:10
1 Peter 2:11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
Hebrews 11:13-16 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
We are strangers and pilgrims on this earth, but we have a home in heaven and someday we are going to go there.
Jesus was not "homeless" and neither are we.
The Lights of Home
O the friends that now are waiting,
In the cloudless realms of day,
Who are calling me to follow
Where their steps have led the way;
They have laid aside their armor,
And their earthly course is run;
They have kept the faith with patience
And their crown of life is won.
They are calling, gently calling,
Sweetly calling me to come,
And I’m looking through the shadows
For the blessèd lights of home.
They have laid aside their armor
For the robe of spotless white;
And with Jesus they are walking
Where the river sparkles bright.
We have labored here together,
We have labored side by side,
Just a little while before me
They have crossed the rolling tide.
On those dear familiar faces
There will be no trace of care;
Every sigh was hushed forever
At the palace gate so fair.
I shall see them, I shall know them,
I shall hear their song of love,
And we’ll all sing hallelujah
In our Father’s house above.
- Fanny J. Crosby
Along the golden streets
A stranger walks tonight
With wonder in his heart --
Faith blossomed into sight.
He walks and stops and stares,
And walks and stares again.
Vistas of loveliness
Beyond the dreams of men.
He who once was weak,
And often shackled to a bed,
Now climbs eternal hills
With light and easy tread.
He has escaped at last
The cruel clutch of pain;
His lips shall never taste
Her bitter cup again.
O never call him dead,
This buoyant one and free,
Whose daily portion is
Delight and ecstasy!
Now bows in speechless joy
Before the feet of Him
Whom, seeing not, he loved
While yet his sight was dim.
Along the golden streets
No stranger walks today,
But one who, long homesick,
Is home at last, to stay!
- Martha Snell Nicholson
Also see: The Road that Leads Home