The Apple Of God's Eye

August 31, 2009

Did Jesus Christ Own A House?

Did Jesus Christ own a home? Traditionally, the consensus seems to run counter to the entire idea of Jesus having a home. Some have attempted to use Matthew 8.20 and Luke 9.58 as proof texts to argue such claims.

By way of a brief background to this question, remember that Luke, the author of Acts and his own Gospel, wrote (as a historian naturally would) in chronological order (see Luke 1:1,3).

Checking the context of the passage in question, we read in Luke 9:51-56: “And it came to pass, when the time was come that he [Jesus] should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him [make arrangements for a place to stay]. And they [the residents of the village] did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.”

The Samaritans in this particular village did not allow Jesus to stay there because He was on His way to Jerusalem. The location of the Temple was a bone of contention between the Jewish people and the Samaritans (see John 4:20). The Samaritans maintained a rival “holy site” on Mount Gerizim.

Now read Luke 9:57-58, remembering the preceding verses: “And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.”

So how do we understand these verses in context? Jesus had wanted to lodge in a Samaritan village on His way to Jerusalem. The citizenry wouldn’t allow it. Therefore, Jesus — in the light of their denying Him overnight accommodations — told the young man that He had no place to stay at the moment.

In other words, at that particular time (“as they went in the way” [verse 57] from one Samaritan village to the next [see verse 56]) He was having difficulty in finding a place to stay overnight on His journey to Jerusalem. It was exemplary of His, at times, difficult ministry.

We also have to remember that when this statement is made, it is when Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem (to die). Logically, then, it only follows that Jesus has left His home for good. He was definitely not going back! These should be taken as narrative markers which reveal the urgency of Christ making His way to Golgotha. He knows it is going to be hostile and He knows He will die. Thus, when He makes this comment to the scribe, He essentially is asking Him to make a choice: Follow me, with the potential of dying or stay here where you are comfortable.

Thus, Jesus did NOT say in Luke 9:57-58 that He did not have a home. More evidence is revealed in John 1:35-39 where John and two others followed Him to where He stayed.

“The next day John was standing there again with two of his disciples. As he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. But when Jesus turned around and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi,” (which is translated “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” He told them, “Come, and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon.’

Mark 2:1-2 also says he stayed in a house and a plain English reading of this verse leaves no room for speculation really that Mark places the event he’s speaking of, in the home of Jesus (the Greek seems to suggest the same). There is no pause in the story and no other people mentioned whose home it could have been (it is commonly argued that this is the home of Peter but the text makes no such claim; further, when Jesus did go to Peter’s home just a few verses earlier, Mark didn’t hesitate to make that known). The International Standard Version says “He was at home,” as does the Moffat, and Revised Standard Version. The New International Version even says “He had come home.”

Most scholars believe that Jesus lived and worked in Capernium prior to his ministry. He did travel a lot and many people get all caught up in the idea that Jesus Christ could not own property. They want to hang on to the stereotype of Jesus as a wandering, homeless, peasant preacher. This notion needs to be put to rest. The gospels tell us to open up our homes to the poor and I see no Biblical reason reason to believe that Jesus did not own a home or that He did not open it up to people. People are simply misreading and misanalyzing the scriptures. The original Greek gives no implied meanings stating otherwise.  Jesus always returned to one general area and so it certainly is not out of the realm of possibility that this was where He lived.

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