The Testing of Would-Be Disciples
Matthew 8:20
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.

These cases are more fully given by Luke (Luke 9:57-62). Our Lord did not aim to be the founder of a sect, and he never showed any interest in mere numbers. He made each offer of discipleship either a test of the real religious condition of the individual, or else an opportunity for laying down or illustrating the great principles, responsibilities, and duties of his kingdom. Two cases are before us in connection with this text. Both men illustrate the general evil of the divided heart - the heart not wholly given to the Lord God. But we may see the form this general evil may take in the case of a precipitate disciple, and in the case of a procrastinating disciple.

I. THE TESTING OF A PRECIPITATE DISCIPLE. With very forcible figures of speech, Christ replies to the precipitate disciple, who gushingly says, "I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest," - "Stop; sit down quietly; count the cost; calmly anticipate; worldly honours do not crown this profession which you are so hurriedly taking up; earthly riches do not lay their treasures at the feet of those who bear this name; the servants are likely to be as the Master; and while 'foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.' Are you honestly and heartily prepared to take up your cross, and to take up that cross daily, and follow Christ, not ashamed even though your Lord should be treated as a crucified malefactor, and your brethren be regarded as those that turn the world upside down?"

II. THE TESTING OF THE PROCRASTINATING DISCIPLE. In language rather more difficult to understand, our Lord in effect says to him, "'Now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation.' I called thee - I who am thy Lord, thy Redeemer. Nothing can excuse delay in replying to the call of thy Lord and thy God. Thy Lord is more to thee than thy earthly father; thy living Lord is certainly more to thee than thy dead father. Let those who are 'dead in trespasses and sins' care for the naturally dead; just now your attention is arrested by an all-absorbing call; your redeeming Lord has called you; then at once, without delay, without hesitation, obey, - 'Go thou and preach the kingdom,' as a sign that you are my disciple." That message tested him. It tests us. If God has spoken to our hearts, that message is an all-absorbing message. Our weak hearts are always urging us to say, "By-and-by, Lord; by-and-by." Augustines still pray, "Lord, convert me, but not yet." And Jesus still says, "He that forsaketh not all that he hath cannot be my disciple." - R.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: 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."

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