Luke 9:58

ESV 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.”
NIV Jesus replied, 'Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.'
NASB And Jesus said to him, 'The foxes have holes and the birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.'
CSB Jesus told him, "Foxes have dens, and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."
NLT But Jesus replied, 'Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.'
KJV 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.

What does Luke 9:58 mean?

A scribe (Matthew 8:19) has told Jesus he will follow Him (Luke 9:57). He has seen Jesus teach and perform miraculous acts of healing to large crowds in Galilee. As this occurs during Jesus' early ministry, based on Matthew's account, they are probably in Capernaum, where Jesus regularly stays at Andrew and Peter's home. The scribe does not know the traveling, rejection, and sacrifice Jesus will endure.

Luke uses this story as a flashback in a series that explains what it means to follow Jesus. In the previous story, a Samaritan town refused to host Jesus (Luke 9:52–56). He does not own a home. He doesn't even have one to use, as a slave would. Despite His humanity, He does not belong in this world and has no safe place to dwell.

Jesus' itinerant lifestyle acts like a metaphor for the world's rejection. Jesus tells the disciples that the world hates Him, so the world will hate the disciples, as well (John 15:18–20). He told them that they will have to be willing to take up their cross and lose their lives if they want to follow Him and receive the reconciliation with God He promises (Luke 9:23–26).

Even so, we shouldn't think that God has terrible fates or hardships prepared for every Jesus-follower. Nor does He plan for every Christian to give up the comforts of home. After Jesus cast out a group of demons from a man, the man wanted to follow Jesus. The man had wailed in the tombs, torn off his clothes, and gashed his skin with rocks—he wasn't going to be deterred by the thought of sleeping rough. But Jesus had another plan for him: he was to return to his home and tell everyone how God had freed him. Sometimes following Jesus entails staying where we are (Luke 8:26–39; Mark 5:1–20).

This is one of many times where Jesus refers to Himself with the title Son of Man. It means a human (Numbers 23:19; Psalm 8:4), but readers of Daniel—which would certainly include the scribe—know it has a deeper meaning. "One like the son of man" will receive great honor from the Ancient of Days: "And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed" (Daniel 7:13–14). Jesus has no place to lay His head but He owns the entire world and everything on it.

The illustration Jesus uses is later adapted in Plutarch's account of The Lives of Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus 9.5. The quote describes the life of a soldier: "The wild beasts roam over Italy and each one has its own hole or lair, but those who fight and die for Italy have only the light and the air as their portion." It's not clear if Plutarch knew of Jesus' words or if they both used an older proverb.
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