“THE SON OF MAN HATH NOT WHERE TO LAY HIS HEAD?”
by Shawn Brasseaux
“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” (Luke 9:58). What did the Lord mean here? “For what saith the Scriptures?” We will let the Holy Ghost, the Author and the Teacher of the Holy Bible, instruct us from the Holy Bible, so we can then believe the Holy Bible, and rejoice in the simple truths of the Holy Bible!
Firstly, Joseph, Mary, and Jesus were poor people. How do we know? Luke chapter 2 clues us in to their financial situation: “ And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.  And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;  (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)  And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”
We read in the Mosaic Law, Leviticus chapter 12: “ And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,  Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean.  And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.  And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled.  But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days.  And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest:  Who shall offer it before the LORD, and make an atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the issue of her blood. This is the law for her that hath born a male or a female.  And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles [that is, turtledoves], or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean.”
According to the Mosaic Law, after bearing a male child and circumcising him on the eighth day, a Jewish woman was to be purified for 33 days (verse 6). When these days of purification were fulfilled, she was to bring forth “a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering,” and the priest would take this, offer it before the LORD, make atonement for her, and she would be cleansed of the issue of her blood. Verse 8 says, “And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles [that is, turtledoves], or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean.” If the woman was too poor to bring a lamb and a young pigeon, or a lamb and a turtledove, she was to either bring: (1) two turtledoves, or (2) two young pigeons. The Bible says that Mary offered either two turtledoves or two young pigeons, the “poor woman’s offering.” Joseph and Mary were not wealthy at all. Joseph was just a carpenter by trade (Matthew 13:55). Jesus Himself, when He grew up, became a carpenter (Mark 6:3). The Holy Spirit is emphasizing Jesus’ humility. The great God of Creation came, not to enjoy earthly riches and high social status, but to be a poverty-stricken Man! Earthly riches did not matter to Him. He did not grow up in some palace, but in a carpenter’s workshop, crafting the very substance (wood) on which He would suffer and die for us!
While Luke 9:58—“Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head”—is often used to say that Jesus was poor, we are persuaded that this verse is actually an indictment against Israel. There are other verses to prove Jesus was materially poor (see our opening comments). The context of Luke 9:58, however, suggests that our Lord is actually exposing Israel’s unbelief. Luke 9:58 is Jesus’ response to a previous statement, so we would do well to read that preceding verse: “And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest” (verse 57). According to Matthew 8:19-20, the companion passage, this man is a scribe, a religious leader in Israel. This scribe makes a promise to Christ, to follow Him wherever He will go. Yet, notice Christ’s reply, Luke 9:58: “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” The foxes and birds have places of residence, but not Jesus Christ. Where can He go? His nation—His own “flesh and blood”—unapologetically rejects Him. “He came unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:11).
Over 30 years prior to the events of Luke 9:58, a baby (Jesus) was born to a virgin in Israel. He was Israel’s Messiah-King, but sinful Israel did not want Him. Instead, she let wicked King Herod murder His (toddler) contemporaries, forcing Joseph and Mary to take the young child Jesus and flee to Egypt (Matthew 2:13-18). When they later returned to Israel, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph dwelt in Nazareth, the “despised place” (verses 19-23). “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46).
With His nation callously rejecting Him, the only place Jesus Christ could go was Calvary’s cruel cross, to be sacrificed for their sins! Even after His resurrection, they refused to have Him. He ascended to heaven as a royal exile, but He shall return, and then He shall have a place to lay His head! Israel’s believing remnant will see Him returning in the skies above, and as JEHOVAH said, “they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn” (Zechariah 12:10). It is then that Jesus Christ will finally inherit the throne of David, to rule not only over Israel, but also over all the heavens and all the earth!