When Mike Yankoski was 22, he wrote Under the Overpass. In this book he described his fascinating experiences as a homeless man. Mike took a break from his college education and lived on the streets of several large U.S. cities.
Yankoski prepared himself for this unusual experiment by reading books about homelessness, working at a homeless shelter, and gathering a group of advisers. He then let his hair and beard grow out, bought a worn-out backpack at a junk store, put a spare sweatshirt in it, and emptied his wallet. For the next five months he slept under bridges, panhandled, asked churches for food, and became so hungry at times that he ate out of garbage cans.
Mike Yankoski put himself through this painful ordeal for noble reasons. He longed to deepen his understanding of and compassion for the homeless poor. And he wanted to draw attention to their plight so that more people would extend a helping hand.
This self-imposed homelessness reminds us of the far greater sacrifice of Jesus. Although he “was in the form of God,” Christ “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:6-8). And why did Jesus leave the glory of heaven to live on earth and suffer death at wicked hands? First, he wanted to identify with our condition. The Bible says that “we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sinning” (Heb. 4:15). Second, Jesus wanted to become our advocate. Since “he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted” (2:18). May his sacred name be praised forever!