“Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20)
“Which way did he go, George? Which way did he go?” If those words didn’t come across in the slow, deep voice of Willoughby the hound dog, I suspect you’re not familiar with the cartoon which made this catchphrase a classic since 1940. It’s the short story of a dim-witted dog who’s lost the fox he’s chasing and asks “George” (the fox) how to get back on track. But his “friend” consistently steers him wrong (surprise, surprise).
Speaking of hunts and foxes, Matthew 8 tells of a scribe declaring to follow Jesus “wherever you go”. But, strangely, the Lord’s reply in verse 20 appears to turn the scribe away: “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.’” A few interesting things to note here. One, Jesus wasn’t rejecting this potential follower but warning him to count the cost because the journey would not be easy. Two, Jesus wasn’t saying He possessed nothing; He did have friends and hospitality throughout his travels, but (humanly speaking) He had no place to call His own – no stationary dwelling, no favorite chair at the end of the day, just the clothes on His back. Three, Jesus refers to Himself as the “Son of Man”. We are all sons of man. By using this title, despite the glory due Him, Jesus identifies with mankind’s humanity, humbly clarifying Messiah’s role to be that of the suffering Savior, as well as sovereign King.
Immediately following the scribe’s declaration to follow Christ, we find the opposite reaction from another “disciple” (v. 21-22). This man knew he should follow Christ but made an excuse to delay indefinitely… and Jesus called him out (as always) by saying, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” This man’s dad wasn’t dead, and he wasn’t asking to dig a grave. He meant to stay back and care for his father, as long as he lived, instead of going now. Jesus was basically saying that nothing – no obligation or family member – should take precedence over God. Our job is to follow, leaving everything else in His hands (they’re big enough to hold the whole world 🎶). Neither response, by the scribe or the “disciple”, is a great example of love or loyalty because passion and promise without performance is pointless. In this case, it was more than empty words. It was self-promoting, self-fulfilling disobedience…sin.
You want to know which way to go? Chase Jesus! No more running around, crashing into culture’s walls, or falling into wells of self-will. And for goodness’ sake, stop asking “George!” If we were cartoon characters, able to bounce back after dropping off a cliff, it wouldn’t be so dangerous but that sly fox, the enemy, always steers us wrong and only towards death. Even well-meaning friends fuel faulty endeavors. Jesus is truth.
One thing those two guys did right was ask questions. They may not have liked the answers, but they got ‘em! Maybe God’s telling you to go. Maybe He’s asking you to wait. Maybe it’s both, like with my family’s uprooting and housing limbo – not easy. In either case, God is with you. Follow His lead. Maybe you can’t see or hear Him. He wants to be found! Ask (pray). Listen (read His Word). Go (serve). Wherever you are, whatever you do, never stop asking of Jesus, “Which way did He go”, and stay hot on His trail!