Jesus WAS Homeless (Still IS Homeless, and Why It Matters)

IMG_0389  I must be naïve, because I really thought this was a foregone conclusion.  The message “Jesus Was Homeless” is printed on the back of Fat Beggars School of Prophets tee shirts and spread all over this town.  I would have thought that anyone who ever read Matthew 8:20 would plainly accept it.  Anyone who ever read Matthew 25:43 might quibble that in fact Jesus still is homeless.  But there is a real push out there to say that Jesus was NOT homeless, and I encountered it at the Mahon Library one day when a stranger approached me while I was wearing one of our shirts to condemn me for the message on it.  I was stunned.

The man approached, made his comment about how the message was a lie, and then withdrew.  He did not come with a reasoned argument to persuade, but merely a jab.  I attempted to engage the man in meaningful conversation, but he just slinked off to obscurity.  And I thought this was an isolated opinion until I bumped into it on the internet again.

I recently read a post on a site which stated, “Jesus was [NOT] homeless and why it matters.”  At least the post made an effort to be reasonable.  The author showed a real concern for his position and wanted to persuade others in a reasonable manner.  So I looked at it carefully.  The post expressed two arguments: 1) that the statement “Jesus was homeless” is inaccurate because we know that Jesus lived with Peter in Capernaum in a fisherman’s hut (Mark 2:1) and 2) the statement “Jesus was homeless,” in that blogger’s opinion, “romanticizes poverty.”

Since that post was in fact reasonable, I thought I should post a reasonable defense of the statement “Jesus was homeless” since I remain unchanged in my opinion.

First, I am aware that Jesus had a place to stay in Capernaum.  And it so happens he crashed at Peter’s house.  Apparently, Jesus was welcome to live there long-term and/or frequently.  I have no idea whether the house had a deed and whose name would have been on it.  But I suspect it was either owned or rented in Peter’s name.  Nevertheless, this argument does not settle the matter at all, as far as I can see.

At one level, it is a matter of semantics.  At a slightly higher level, it is a matter of proof-texting – for after all, even Luke tells us that when Jesus was born, “there was no room in the inn” and the child was “laid in a manger” (Luke 2:7).  This strongly suggests Jesus was born homeless, even if briefly and not as a matter of chronic homelessness.  Let’s not forget that Jesus as a newborn/youngster lived as a refugee in Egypt (Matt. 2:13).

But at a much richer level, a theological level, Jesus represents God the Father in a unique way, and this is the same God of whom King David said, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells within tent curtains” (II Sam. 7:2)  This is David’s first order of domestic business when his kingdom rule is established: Build a HOUSE for God.  Of course, if you have read that story, you know that God tells David that he cannot build a house for God, but God will build a dynasty for David – AND – that David’s Son will build a HOUSE of God.  Then as the story unfolds, King Solomon builds a temple for God.  But it is a temple that eventually gets judged and destroyed.  However, the New Testament writers pick up this theme and characterize Jesus as the Son of David and as the Carpenter who will build the HOUSE of God using stones not made with hands – stones being sons (see Eph. 2:19-22, among others).

I only provide a very thin thumbnail sketch here of a rich theological argument, but it lays the groundwork for a very reasonable case that Jesus WAS homeless.  And when coupled with Matthew 25:35 where Jesus associates himself with strangers that you might take in, we could easily make the jump to say that Jesus IS still homeless today.  All of this on theological grounds!

Of course the blogger also said that he does not want to “romanticize poverty.”  And I think this is the ground from which his case springs.  He does not want to associate Jesus too closely with modern street people who are somehow beneath his contempt.  I, on the other hand, want to do exactly that thing.  And so in a very real sense, this is where the argument actually arises.

Jesus has been associated with the poor, the afflicted, and the scorned ever since Isaiah penned chapter 53.  And of course that is the grounding of the scandal of the Gospel.  We don’t want to see Jesus in the muck we find contemptuous.  And certainly not when we hold contempt for people we think should live their lives better than they do.  Homelessness lives right square in the middle of American contempt.  That is why, in my opinion, we want to say that Jesus was NOT homeless.

And I think it matters, because there are only a handful of warnings about Judgment on the lips of Jesus in the Gospels.  They make up a very short list: Don’t blaspheme the Holy Spirit, forgive or else you will not be forgiven, and treat the poor like you would treat Jesus or else you can stand with the goats and go into destruction.  Thus, this stuff matters.

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Addendum:

Going farther yet, this really matters because Jesus wants to live in your heart.  Your heart is his HOME.  The question is: Does Jesus live in your heart?  And of course the follow-up question I would add to that is: How can you ask Jesus into your heart but not ask a homeless man (think Matt. 25:35) into your guest bedroom tonight?

7 comments

  1. Pingback: I Love Broken Hearted Drunk Bums (And Jesus Does Too) | Fat Beggars School of Prophets
  2. Agent X · November 22, 2019

    Reblogged this on Fat Beggars School of Prophets and commented:

    Blast From The Past Post. Here again is another in the BFTP series that I think should have got more attention. Now, years later, I am reblogging it to give it a second chance at your attention.

    Like

  3. Spy Vs Spy · November 23, 2019

    I appreciate the reasonableness demonstrated in this piece.

    I think it’s also possible to challenge the “romantic “ label in part by asking, “What does that mean”? It also demonstrates the use of non-factual color in attempt to win an argument.

    Still another approach is to examine the “hidden fear component” in that fallacious charge. Approaching this in an effort to “understand” one’s opponents and seeking to find any middle ground – if not found in the facts – then in the emotional realm.

    Anyway seemed a good start! Also points up that good scholarship isn’t necessarily found on “bumper stickers “.

    Good work

    Like

    • Agent X · November 23, 2019

      I wonder… What “middle ground” do you wish to plant your flag in?

      Jesus was homeless.

      Jesus was NOT homeless.

      What is in the middle here? And why would you seek it?

      Thanx.

      Like

  4. bornagain732 · November 24, 2019

    I have a question? What do you do with one that just wants money that lives on the streets-and you have given them money but now you become a “bank”-so then you offer him a job-he takes it long enough to his choice-then stops and disappears. Then months later you get texts from him wanting money again…
    Is there a line to be drawn when you have given one the opportunity not to be homeless but they choose it…
    Thank you! I really appreciate your blog!
    🙏🏻

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agent X · November 24, 2019

      I am always leery about “drawing lines” – as we say. I suppose some of that type thing is useful in some cases in various ways, but it’s not a go-to strategy for me. It says this behavior (or whatever) is okay here, here, here, here, but not here. And that is rather arbitrary a lot of times. Especially when dealing with other adults. When I deal with my small children, that just sets good boundaries of where they can be (or whatever).

      Generally, I give to all who ask. Jesus actually says that.

      However, I am no one’s bank. I don’t have that much money. So I give WHAT I HAVE TO GIVE.

      I very rarely find myself with NOTHING to give. I almost always have SOMETHING. But I address the request as best I can. If they want a dollar, I check to see if I have that to give. If they ask for something else, I see if I have THAT to give.

      I will add this to the picture:

      When someone comes to me repeatedly with needs, it gives me a chance to build “relationship” with that person. Right now I have an infant wanting to eat and poop who calls to me repeatedly. He doesn’t want any money, thank goodness.

      A while back, I wrote a post about WHEN THEIR STORY BECOMES OUR STORY. I am thinking about adding more posts and expanding that thought. Every time a needy person approaches me, I want them to see Jesus. And Jesus had a LOT of needy people pressing in on him everywhere he went! They were finding something in/from him that kept them coming back.

      To my knowledge, he never offered them money, and they never asked. But he did bless them with other things. And just because a lot of that seemed somehow miraculous beyond any of my gifts, hasn’t stopped some of my critics from saying these people came to Jesus, not so much for the salvation and relationship as for the food, the healing and so forth. Ten lepers were healed, but only one, the foreigner, saw fit to respond appropriately. It seems Jesus’s generosity exceeds his demands.

      But I would say that each contact is a chance to share more of ME, and hopefully the ME being shared, the sacrifice, is really JESUS being shared, and he has great patience. He actually seeks our dependence.

      I think we get frustrated about a needy person repeatedly coming for money (and things) because their story is becoming ours. If we keep this up, the rich man might well sell all he owns, give it to the poor, and count his blessings in heaven as he follows Jesus. That is unacceptable to many a rich man.

      At this point, I have never actually been hit up for all my money. The mythical person to whom I become a bank has yet to be found by me. I have been exhausted a few times by a handful of needy people, and I have withdrawn to pray. I even got fed up and ran away one time, but I think that was more my own weakness than anything. And honestly, my relationship with that person survived it.

      Thanx for reading, responding, and asking!

      So glad to have you. Hope you will come again.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Jesus Was Homeless (state of the argument) | Fat Beggars School of Prophets

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