Homelessness of Jesus

The gospels demonstrate the homelessness of Jesus lasting for the entirety of his public ministry.[1] He left the economic security he had as an artisan and the reciprocity he had with his family and wandered Palestine depending on charity.[2] Many of the people on whom he depended for charity were women.[3] Because his ministry took place in the vicinity of his disciples' hometowns, it is likely that the group often slept at the homes of the disciples' family members.[4]

Of the Four Evangelists, Luke emphasizes Jesus' homelessness the most.[5] Matthew 8:20 and Luke 9:59 both record a statement by Jesus in which he describes his homelessness by saying that "foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the son of man has nowhere to lay his head".[6] The implication is that the scribe who has just offered to become a follower of Jesus should also expect the same.[7] Theologian John Gill noted a parallel between this saying and the Jews' expectation of the Messiah: "if he (the Messiah) should come, 'there's no place in which he can sit down'.[8]

Sophiologists interpreted Jesus' homelessness as the homelessness of Sophia.[9] New Monastic writer Shane Claiborne refers to Jesus as "the homeless rabbi".[10] Catholic theologian Rosemary Radford Ruether discusses Jesus' homelessness in relation to the concept of kenosis, the voluntary renunciation of power in order to submit to the will of God.[11] In a book length study on the Gospel of Matthew, Robert J. Myles has argued that the homelessness of Jesus is often romanticized in biblical interpretation in a way that obscures the destitution and lack of agency that would have likely accompanied the situation.[12]

Canadian sculptor Tim Schmalz created Jesus the Homeless, a bronze sculpture of Jesus lying on a park bench covered in a blanket with his wounded feet protruding.[13]


  1. Jackson (2010), p. 256.
  2. Fiensy (2007), p. 122.
  3. Ryken (2012), p. 30.
  4. Becker (1998), p. 26.
  5. Denaux (2010), p. 97.
  6. Stanton (2013), p. 220.
  7. Matthew Henry's Commentary on Matthew 8, accessed 25 December 2016
  8. Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible on Matthew 8, referring to Talmud - Mas. Sanhedrin 96b, accessed 25 December 2016: "Send ye a messenger to the ruler of the earth [i.e., Nebuchadnezzar] [that he may come] by way of the rocks [i.e., mountains] to the wilderness, [unto the mount of the daughter of Zion]. He sent back, ‘If I come, I have no place for encamping’."
  9. Theissen (2009), p. 117.
  10. Claiborne (2010), p. 36.
  11. Perkins (2004), p. 328.
  12. Myles (2014)
  13. Hilliard, Mark (May 1, 2015). "Homeless Jesus at Christ Church Set to Provoke Reflection". The Irish Times. Retrieved May 22, 2015.


  • Becker, Jürgen (1998). Jesus of Nazareth. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 3110157721. 
  • Claiborne, Shane (2010). Follow Me to Freedom: Leading and Following as an Ordinary Radical. ReadHowYouWant. ISBN 1459607031. 
  • Denaux, Adelbert (2010). Studies in the Gospel of Luke: Structure, Language and Theology. LIT Verlag. ISBN 3643900600. 
  • Fiensy, David A. (2007). Jesus the Galilean: Soundings in a First Century Life. Gorgias Press. ISBN 1593333137. 
  • Jackson, Al (2010). Adam Greenway, Chuck Lawless, eds. "The American Dream or the Great Commission Resurgence?". The Great Commission Resurgence. B&H Publishing Group: 245–264. ISBN 1433672162. 
  • Myles, Robert J. (2014). The Homeless Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew. Sheffield Phoenix Press. 
  • Perkins, Robert L. (2004). Practice in Christianity. Mercer University Press. ISBN 0865549303. 
  • Ryken, Philip Graham (2012). Grace Transforming. Good News Publishers. ISBN 1433534037. 
  • Stanton, Graham (2013). Studies in Matthew and Early Christianity. Mohr Siebeck. ISBN 3161525434. 
  • Theissen, Gerd (2009). James H. Charlesworth, Petr Pokorny, eds. "Jesus as an Itinerant Preacher: Reflections from Social History on Jesus' Roles". Jesus Research: An International Perspective. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. ISBN 0802863531. 
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