Matthew 8:20 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Matthew 8:20, NIV: Jesus replied, 'Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.'

Matthew 8:20, 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.”

Matthew 8:20, KJV: And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

Matthew 8:20, 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.'

Matthew 8:20, 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.'

Matthew 8:20, 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."

What does Matthew 8:20 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Christ and His disciples are preparing to get into a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee, which was the size of a large lake. Jesus directed this after seeing the size of the crowds gathering (Matthew 8:18). Before they can leave, Jesus is approached by two onlookers. The first, mentioned in the previous verse, is a scribe (Matthew 8:19). Scribes were associated with the Pharisees and responsible for teaching and regulating the law. As a group, they were often in conflict with Jesus. This scribe, however, declared to Jesus that he would follow Him wherever He went.

Now Jesus responds, but not with direct encouragement or discouragement. Instead, He presents a truth about Himself using nature as an illustration. Even wild animals can claim a home, somewhere, but Jesus' ministry means He has no such home. This response suggests Christ knew the ultimate motivation of this man's statement (John 2:24–25). Jesus was warning the man about just one of the many difficulties that would come with following Him. It would be a permanent road trip.

The implied statement Jesus makes here is something like "this is not going to make you rich and famous, nor is it going to be easy." Would the scribe really follow Jesus everywhere once he saw how tough that journey could be? The lack of response or further information about this man suggests that he would not and did not.

Jesus refers to Himself as a the "Son of Man." The name suggests that Jesus is the greatest of all human sons. It likely comes from the prophecy in Daniel 7:13 about the Christ:
"Behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. 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."