Foxes Have Holes: The Cost of Following Him

Written by Phillip Nicewaner

“When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, ‘Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.’

Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.’” [1]


I minister to myself, first, that I may pay heed to the word of our Lord Jesus and, second, to my readers that they would do the same, together recognizing the great cost we must bear to follow Jesus as foreigners in the world.

It is not strange to hear one profess faith in Christ, nor is it unusual to hear the same say “Amen” behind the pledge to follow, but base their identity on worldly terms and dominions, cultures or ethnicities. When Jesus responded, saying, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head,” He did not limit this as a single response to a particular individual, but this answer stands as a contemporaneous response to a progression of believers from the very disciples themselves. We were given the terms for our lives.

Are we not foreigners, that is, pilgrims in a foreign land? Once, we were citizens of our respective countries, building our own respective kingdoms with possessions, in hopes that we may achieve ambition’s dream of success. We sought the relaxation of retirement – spending our golden years, lakeside, fishing peacefully, reminiscing on the favored memories of our youth. Yet, Christ’s call compelled us to Him. No longer was our security in worldly ambition; no longer were we to be associated by worldly identities; our possessions became worthless and meaningless and our perceived security was no more. Our home was far off and, for those of us who have not fallen asleep, it still is.

When we first submitted to the call, to Christ we said, “Lord, I will follow you wherever you take me,” but who has done so? Lord, may we find inspiration from this! Who among us is without a place to rest their head, who among us is a foreigner, a pilgrim, a stranger among familiar people? This is not to say that we are to live in the streets, proclaiming the Word, and exist in such a manner, but to live as if we are not of the world, as if our stake is an eternal one, which it most certainly is. We are to live and move as if that which we are bound to is not earthly. What else was the fault of the rich man? His possessions were the significant factors in his life, yet he professed that he kept the commandments, but downcast was he when Jesus said, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”[2] First, go sell that, which you possess, give it away, and then come follow me or, even, rid yourself of that which tied you to the world and then come follow me.

This issue of identity is a great and growing problem in the western church, for many – all too many – identify themselves within the context of cultural definitions, with Christ in second place. However, in the days of the early church, the label “Christian” was an insult, one’s place of birth or residency was of no matter for they were all just “Christians,” part of a silly cult that resulted from the death and following superstitions of a mere man. Who are you, brothers and sisters, if not the same? We are the gadflies of humanity, why do we then deny our pilgrimage for worldly citizenship? Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to rest his headsell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me. Being conformed to His likeness, we must understand that, just as He had no place to rest His head, we as well are, for now, without that comfort.

Not unlike Abram, we too were called out of our country to the promise, traveling until we arrive home. We are now homeless, citizens of a greater country, a better kingdom, one which is everlasting. We are heirs, children of the promise, in the Spirit of adoption, sons and daughters of the Most High and we are to live as such as we are passing through, yet beacons of light in the darkness. Shouldn’t this convict us mightily? Something so small, often so overlooked, but so profound and meaningful. May we all be convicted of this. Praise to our Lord Jesus, to the glory of the Father. Amen.

Gloria in excelsis Deo.

[1] The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996 (electronic ed.) (Mt 19:16-30). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[2] The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996 (electronic ed.) (Mt 8:18–22). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

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