Matthew 8:20
Parallel Verses
New International Version
Jesus replied, "Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."

New Living Translation
But Jesus replied, "Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head."

English Standard Version
And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

New American Standard Bible
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."

King James Bible
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.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
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.""

International Standard Version
Jesus told him, "Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to rest."

NET Bible
Jesus said to him, "Foxes have dens, and the birds in the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
Yeshua said to him, “Foxes have lairs and birds of the sky have shelters, but The Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Jesus told him, "Foxes have holes, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to sleep."

Jubilee Bible 2000
And Jesus said unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the heaven have nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.

King James 2000 Bible
And Jesus said unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.

American King James Version
And Jesus said to him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has not where to lay his head.

American Standard Version
And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the heaven have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

Douay-Rheims Bible
And Jesus saith to him: The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air nests: but the son of man hath not where to lay his head.

Darby Bible Translation
And Jesus says to him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the heaven roosting-places; but the Son of man has not where he may lay his head.

English Revised Version
And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the heaven have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

Webster's Bible Translation
And Jesus saith to 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.

Weymouth New Testament
"Foxes have holes," replied Jesus, "and birds have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head."

World English Bible
Jesus said to him, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head."

Young's Literal Translation
and Jesus saith to him, 'The foxes have holes, and the birds of the heaven places of rest, but the Son of Man hath not where he may lay the head.'
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

8:18-22 One of the scribes was too hasty in promising; he proffers himself to be a close follower of Christ. He seems to be very resolute. Many resolutions for religion are produced by sudden conviction, and taken up without due consideration; these come to nothing. When this scribe offered to follow Christ, one would think he should have been encouraged; one scribe might do more credit and service than twelve fishermen; but Christ saw his heart, and answered to its thoughts, and therein teaches all how to come to Christ. His resolve seems to have been from a worldly, covetous principle; but Christ had not a place to lay his head on, and if he follows him, he must not expect to fare better than he fared. We have reason to think this scribe went away. Another was too slow. Delay in doing is as bad on the one hand, as hastiness in resolving is on the other. He asked leave to attend his father to his grave, and then he would be at Christ's service. This seemed reasonable, yet it was not right. He had not true zeal for the work. Burying the dead, especially a dead father, is a good work, but it is not thy work at this time. If Christ requires our service, affection even for the nearest and dearest relatives, and for things otherwise our duty, must give way. An unwilling mind never wants an excuse. Jesus said to him, Follow me; and, no doubt, power went with this word to him as to others; he did follow Christ, and cleaved to him. The scribe said, I will follow thee; to this man Christ said, Follow me; comparing them together, it shows that we are brought to Christ by the force of his call to us, Ro 9:16.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 20. - And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes. The Asiatic fox (Vulpes corsac) is decidedly smaller than our European species, but has the same habits. And the birds of the air (Revised Version, heaven) have nests. So the Old Latin and the common text of the Vulgate (nidos), but birds do not generally live in nests, nor is "nests" so natural a meaning for κατασκηνώσεις as" shelters" (cf. Trench, loc. cit.). The renderings in the true text of the Vulgate (tabernacula), and in Old Latin k, and Cyprian (devorsoria) are interesting. Revised Version margin has, "Gk. lodging places" (cf. Matthew 13:32 and parallel pas sages). But the Son of man. The original phrase, "one like unto a son of man," was used in Daniel 7:13, apparently as a symbol of the Jewish nation, to which was to be given supreme power. There is no evidence that it was understood of Messiah before our Lord employed it, but rather the re verse (cf. Bishop Westcott, on John 1:51, and especially Professor Stanton, 'Jewish and Christian Messiah,' pp. 109, 239, sqq.; yet see Professor Sunday, in Expositor, January, 1891; cf. further, Matthew 9:6, note). Our Lord uses it here for the sake of the contrast it suggested to the lower creation. Man, the head of creation (as none would acknowledge more fully than this student of the Law), has in the person of the ideal Man not even the luxuries which correspond to those enjoyed by beasts and birds. Such was the love and self-abasement of the Restorer of creation (Romans 8:21). Hath not where to lay his head. He has no home to call his own.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

And Jesus saith unto him,.... Knowing his heart, and the carnal and worldly views with which he acted;

the foxes have holes in the earth, where they hide themselves from danger, take their rest, and secure their whelps;

and the birds of the air have nests, where they sit, lay, and hatch their eggs, and bring up their young;

but the son of man has not where to lay his head, when he is weary, and wants rest and sleep, as he did at this time. So that though he was Lord of all, as being the mighty God; yet as "the son of man", a phrase, expressive both of the truth and meanness of his human nature, the most despicable of creatures in the earth and air, were richer than he. This he said, to convince the Scribe of his mistake; who expected much worldly grandeur and wealth, by becoming his disciple. When Christ styles himself "the son of man", it is no contradiction to his being God; nor any objection to trust and confidence in him, as the Jew (z) suggests; for he is truly and properly God, as well as really man, having two natures, human and divine, united in his person; so that he is, as was prophesied of him, Emmanuel, God with us, in our nature, God manifested in the flesh: and since he is so, it cannot be unlawful to trust in him; which it would be indeed, was he a mere man. The Jews ought not to object to this name and title of the "Messiah, the son of man": since he is so called, as their own writers and commentators acknowledge, in (a) Psalm 80:17 and (b) Daniel 7:13. And whereas it is further urged against these words of Christ, that if he was God, why does he complain of want of place? Is not the whole world his, according to Psalm 24:1? It may be replied, that it is very true, that the whole world is his, nor could he be in want of anything, as God; but yet, as man, for our sakes he became "poor", that we "might be rich": nor should this be any difficulty with a Jew, when they themselves say, as some have thought, if he (the Messiah) should come, , "there's no place in which he can sit down" (c). Unless it be understood of Nebuchadnezzar, as the gloss explains it; let the learned inspect the place, and judge: the coming of the Messiah is immediately spoken of.

(z) R. Isaac Chizzuk Emuna, par. 2. c. 12. p. 403. (a) Targum & Aben Ezra in loc, Abarbinel Mashmia Jeshua, fol. 81. 2.((b) R. Jeshua in Aben Ezra in loc. & Saadiah Gaon & Jarchi in loc. Zohar in Gen. fol. 85. 4. (c) T. Bab. Sanhedrim, fol. 96. 2.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

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—Few as there were of the scribes who attached themselves to Jesus, it would appear, from his calling Him Teacher, that this one was a "disciple" in that looser sense of the word in which it is applied to the crowds who flocked after Him, with more or less conviction that His claims were well founded. But from the answer which he received we are led to infer that there was more of transient emotion—of temporary impulse—than of intelligent principle in the speech. The preaching of Christ had riveted and charmed him; his heart had swelled; his enthusiasm had been kindled; and in this state of mind he will go anywhere with Him, and feels impelled to tell Him so. "Wilt thou?" replies the Lord Jesus. "Knowest thou whom thou art pledging thyself to follow, and whither haply He may lead thee? No warm home, no downy pillow has He for thee: He has them not for Himself. The foxes are not without their holes, nor do the birds of the air lack their nests; but the Son of man has to depend on the hospitality of others, and borrow the pillow whereon He lays His head." How affecting is this reply! And yet He rejects not this man's offer, nor refuses him the liberty to follow Him. Only He will have him know what he is doing, and "count the cost." He will have him weigh well the real nature and the strength of his attachment, whether it be such as will abide in the day of trial. If so, he will be right welcome, for Christ puts none away. But it seems too plain that in this case that had not been done. And so we have called this the Rash or Precipitate Disciple.

II. The Procrastinating or Entangled Disciple (Mt 8:21, 22).

As this is more fully given in Luke (Lu 9:59), we must take both together. "And He said unto another of His disciples, Follow Me. But he said,"

Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead—or, as more definitely in Luke, "Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God" (Lu 9:60). This disciple did not, like the former, volunteer his services, but is called by the Lord Jesus, not only to follow, but to preach Him. And he is quite willing; only he is not ready just yet. "Lord, I will; but"—"There is a difficulty in the way just now; but that once removed, I am Thine." What now is this difficulty? Was his father actually dead—lying a corpse—having only to be buried? Impossible. As it was the practice, as noticed on Lu 7:12, to bury on the day of death, it is not very likely that this disciple would have been here at all if his father had just breathed his last; nor would the Lord, if He was there, have hindered him discharging the last duties of a son to a father. No doubt it was the common case of a son having a frail or aged father, not likely to live long, whose head he thinks it his duty to see under the ground ere he goes abroad. "This aged father of mine will soon be removed; and if I might but delay till I see him decently interred, I should then be free to preach the kingdom of God wherever duty might call me." This view of the case will explain the curt reply, "Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God." Like all the other paradoxical sayings of our Lord, the key to it is the different senses—a higher and a lower—in which the same word "dead" is used: There are two kingdoms of God in existence upon earth; the kingdom of nature, and the kingdom of grace: To the one kingdom all the children of this world, even the most ungodly, are fully alive; to the other, only the children of light: The reigning irreligion consists not in indifference to the common humanities of social life, but to things spiritual and eternal: Fear not, therefore, that your father will in your absence be neglected, and that when he breathes his last there will not be relatives and friends ready enough to do to him the last offices of kindness. Your wish to discharge these yourself is natural, and to be allowed to do it a privilege not lightly to be foregone. But the kingdom of God lies now all neglected and needy: Its more exalted character few discern; to its paramount claims few are alive: and to "preach" it fewer still are qualified and called: But thou art: The Lord therefore hath need of thee: Leave, then, those claims of nature, high though they be, to those who are dead to the still higher claims of the kingdom of grace, which God is now erecting upon earth—Let the dead bury their dead; but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And so have we here the genuine, but Procrastinating or Entangled Disciple.

The next case is recorded only by Luke:

III. The Irresolute or Wavering Disciple (Lu 9:61, 62).

Lu 9:61:

And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell which are at home at my house.

Lu 9:62:

And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. But for the very different replies given, we should hardly have discerned the difference between this and the second case: the one man called, indeed, and the other volunteering, as did the first; but both seemingly alike willing, and only having a difficulty in their way just at that moment. But, by help of what is said respectively to each, we perceive the great difference between the two cases. From the warning given against "looking back," it is evident that this man's discipleship was not yet thorough, his separation from the world not entire. It is not a case of going back, but of looking back; and as there is here a manifest reference to the case of "Lot's wife" (Ge 19:26; and see on [1236]Lu 17:32), we see that it is not actual return to the world that we have here to deal with, but a reluctance to break with it. The figure of putting one's hand to the plough and looking back is an exceedingly vivid one, and to an agricultural people most impressive. As ploughing requires an eye intent on the furrow to be made, and is marred the instant one turns about, so will they come short of salvation who prosecute the work of God with a distracted attention, a divided heart. The reference may be chiefly to ministers; but the application at least is general. As the image seems plainly to have been suggested by the case of Elijah and Elisha, a difficulty may be raised, requiring a moment's attention. When Elijah cast his mantle about Elisha, which the youth quite understood to mean appointing him his successor, he was ploughing with twelve yoke of oxen, the last pair held by himself. Leaving his oxen, he ran after the prophet, and said, "Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and [then] I will follow thee." Was this said in the same spirit with the same speech uttered by our disciple? Let us see. "And Elijah said unto him, Go back again: for what have I done to thee." Commentators take this to mean that Elijah had really done nothing to hinder him from going on with all his ordinary duties. But to us it seems clear that Elijah's intention was to try what manner of spirit the youth was of:—"Kiss thy father and mother? And why not? By all means, go home and stay with them; for what have I done to thee? I did but throw a mantle about thee; but what of that?" If this was his meaning, Elisha thoroughly apprehended and nobly met it. "He returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen (the wood of his ploughing implements), and gave unto the people, and they did eat: then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him" (1Ki 19:19-21). We know not if even his father and mother had time to be called to this hasty feast. But this much is plain, that, though in affluent circumstances, he gave up his lower calling, with all its prospects, for the higher and at that time perilous, office to which he was called. What now is the bearing of these two cases? Did Elisha do wrong in bidding them farewell with whom he was associated in his early calling? Or, if not, would this disciple have done wrong if he had done the same thing, and in the same spirit, with Elisha? Clearly not. Elisha's doing it proved that he could with safety do it; and our Lord's warning is not against bidding them farewell which were at home at his house, but against the probable fatal consequences of that step; lest the embraces of earthly relationship should prove too strong for him, and he should never return to follow Christ. Accordingly, we have called this the Irresolute or Wavering Disciple.

Matthew 8:20 Additional Commentaries
Context
The Cost of Following Jesus
19Then a scribe came and said to Him, "Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go." 20Jesus 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." 21Another of the disciples said to Him, "Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father."…
Cross References
Psalm 104:12
The birds of the sky nest by the waters; they sing among the branches.

Daniel 7:13
"In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.

Matthew 12:8
For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."

Matthew 12:32
Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

Matthew 12:40
For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Matthew 13:37
He answered, "The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man.

Mark 8:38
If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."

Luke 9:58
Jesus replied, "Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."

Luke 12:8
"I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God.

Luke 18:8
I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"

Luke 21:36
Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man."

John 1:51
He then added, "Very truly I tell you, you will see 'heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on' the Son of Man."

John 3:13
No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven--the Son of Man.

John 3:14
Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,

John 6:27
Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval."

John 6:53
Jesus said to them, "Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.

John 6:62
Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before!

John 12:34
The crowd spoke up, "We have heard from the Law that the Messiah will remain forever, so how can you say, 'The Son of Man must be lifted up'? Who is this 'Son of Man'?"

John 13:31
When he was gone, Jesus said, "Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him.

Acts 7:56
"Look," he said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."
Treasury of Scripture

And Jesus said to him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has not where to lay his head.

and.

Psalm 84:3 Yes, the sparrow has found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, …

Psalm 104:17 Where the birds make their nests: as for the stork, the fir trees are her house.

the Son.

Psalm 40:17 But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinks on me: you are my help …

Psalm 69:29 But I am poor and sorrowful: let your salvation, O God, set me up on high.

Psalm 109:22 For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me.

Isaiah 53:2,3 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root …

Luke 2:7,12,16 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling …

Luke 8:3 And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many …

2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he …

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