A photograph of a bronze statue of a person covered in a blanket and lying on a park bench all in front of a building with glass windows on a sunny day
Canadian sculptor Tim Schmalz's 2013 sculpture Jesus the Homeless

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 Judaea 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]

Scriptural analysis

Of the Four Evangelists, Luke emphasizes Jesus' homelessness the most.[5] Matthew 8:20 and Luke 9:58 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]

Representation in Art and Literature

Contemporary Art

Canadian sculptor Tim Schmalz created Jesus the Homeless, a 2013 bronze sculpture of Jesus lying on a park bench covered in a blanket with his wounded feet protruding.[13]

Contemporary Literature

Books addressing this issue are following:


  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.
  14. ^ Myles, Robert J. The Homeless Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, ISBN 1909697389
  15. ^ Mathis, Wilma, Jesus Among the Homeless: Successful Strategies of Christian Ministers to the Marginalized. Wipf & Stock. ISBN 9781666758887
  16. ^ Wooton, David Meeting Homeless Jesus: A Journey From Believing to Knowing, ISBN 1736113712