Have you ever thought about the fact that Jesus was sometimes homeless?
Jesus told those who wanted to follow him, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20).
Indeed, as Luke records the teachings of Jesus, he casually mentions that Jesus slept outside. “Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple” (Luke 21:37-38).
It's more than simply a metaphorical picture. Jesus didn’t have a home.
Certainly, the olive grove and quiet starlit nights often provided escape from the crowds. But other times, rain or snow might have soaked Jesus to the skin. During his life on earth, Jesus experienced sleeping on hard ground, hunger, cold, darkness, and loneliness.
Of course, we also read about Jesus visiting Peter’s house (Matthew 8:14) and Martha welcoming Jesus into her home (Luke 10:38). Jesus’ mother and brothers sought him out because they were concerned about him (Mark 3:21). So, Jesus had places he could stay.
Yet, there’s more to consider. The Bible doesn’t mention Jesus owning anything other than the clothes on his back, which the soldiers divvied up at his crucifixion (Matthew 27:35). We dare not romanticize his lack of possessions in our modern minds as just “living simply” or “being minimalist.”
Jesus likely trained as a carpenter. Yet, during the three years of his ministry, there’s no evidence that he worked in his trade to provide for himself or his mother. Did people look at him and say, “Get a job”? Regardless of what people thought, Jesus depended on his Heavenly Father to provide and allowed his followers to care for his needs (Matthew 27:55; Mark 15:41).
So, how does Jesus’ homelessness impact us?
Though God doesn’t command us to sell our homes and live on the street, he does tell us to care for the poor (See James 1:27, Deuteronomy 15:7-8, Zechariah 7:9-10, Galatians 2:10, James 2:1-13). Jesus also explained that we must value God more than our stuff (Luke 12:33-34, Matthew 19:16-22).
But probably the clearest answer comes in Jesus’ description of the final judgment, when the Son of Man separates true followers from false ones.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me’” (Matthew 25:34-36).
The King’s statement surprises the righteous, because they don’t remember ever seeing him in need or helpinghHim. So, they ask him when they did these things (Matthew 25:37-39).
“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me’” (Matthew 25:40).
So, when you look at people who are homeless, see Jesus. Respond to them as you would respond to Jesus. Give to them as you would give to Jesus.