Was Jesus Rich?

Money. God gave it to us to use, but also warned us about the pitfalls it can cause our lives.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 1 Timothy 6:10

On a follow up piece from last week called, Was Jesus Poor? I decided to undertake the sensitive subject of asking about the financial wellness of Jesus during His time on Earth.  A dividing theological subject between Christian believers and denominations. The biblical contents and teachings of Jesus on finances have also gained the attention and sometimes disdain from secular scholars.

Jesus was born in a manger – which likely included an unpleasant odor, seating arrangements and a lower degree of cleanliness. I have seen my wife give birth to two children. Things gets messy. I imagine Mary and Joseph didn’t have several nurses, cloths and trash cans at their disposal that night.  These pieces of evidence lead me to conclude that Jesus was born under poverty like conditions.

Immediately following the birth of Jesus, three wise men followed a star sent by God to find Jesus. When they showed up at the stable door to gaze upon the child the Bible records in Matthew 2:10-11 that, “they rejoiced with great delight. On coming to the house, they saw the Child with His mother Mary, and they fell down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.”

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My first child’s birth came with many gifts including a crib, car seats and a mountain of clothes. My second child’s baby shower was met with less pomp and circumstance. We received only a few gifts – which consisted of mostly diapers. Apparently, having children close together in age sours people on the idea of gift giving. By the time we get to four I assume all we will get is a few comments of congratulations on our social media pages. Did the siblings of Jesus receive even less?

Jesus was born into a situation of lack, however, He was also immediately gifted with fine things. Gold being at the top of the list. How much gold was Jesus gifted? Did that amount of gold and gifts bring his family into a new tax bracket?

The Old Testament tells the stories of many fathers of our faith.  Abraham, David, Joseph, Moses and Solomon to name a few. According to the Bible, each of these men at some point in their lives had considerable wealth.

·      Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold. Genesis 13:2

·       David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned forty years. 2 Samuel 5:4

·      Pharaoh also told Joseph, “I hereby place you over all the land of Egypt.” Then Pharaoh removed the signet ring from his finger, put it on Joseph’s finger, clothed him in garments of fine linen, and placed a gold chain around his neck. Genesis 41:41-42

·      The LORD caused the Egyptians to look favorably on the Israelites, and they gave the Israelites whatever they asked for. So they stripped the Egyptians of their wealth! Exodus 12:36

·      King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth. 1 Kings 10:23

Scripture details that wealth can be handled and given to God fearing people. Jesus was at the top of the list of people who lived in a God fearing way. Would Jesus have loved God more than money? Of course not. The Bible doesn’t contain any Scripture listing the net worth or Earthly possessions of Christ. But does that also mean He never had any? Or that He acquired any wealth? 

Yesterday, we asked if financial poverty was the poverty 2 Corinthians 8:9 refers to when speaking about how Jesus lived. Today, I ask you, “Can wealthy people love and follow God?”  We see in the above examples that can be true, but is the wealth of God reserved for only Old Testament believers? Are believers today only able to be blessed by living both financially poor as Luke 6:20 says and poor in spirit as Matthew 5:3 says?

There is a setting in the New Testament where Jesus and the Apostles visit the house of Mary and she anoints Jesus with oil (John 12:1-8; Matthew 26:6-13Mark 14:3-9Luke 7:36-50). An expensive jar of alabaster perfume was poured on Jesus head. The disciples are shocked at the use of this particular expensive oil.

In Matthew, it is asked why they don’t take the perfume and sell it at a high price and give to the poor? Jesus responded by saying that this oil is getting Him ready for burial.  Judas, who is called the keeper of the money bag is the accountant of the group tells the group he also disagrees and offers that he could get three hundred denarii for the oil.  It is also mentioned that Judas wanted the money because he had been stealing from the bag for his own personal gain.

This story raises a few questions in regards to the financial well-being of Christ and the Apostles.  If they were in poverty, why would they need money to give to the poor if they were poor themselves? If they had decided to raise a high price for the oil instead of anointing Jesus would they have been considered rich or poor? 

Judas was the keeper of the money. Doesn’t that mean there was money in their possession? Was it a substantial amount? They had enough to give to the poor, use for their own food and travel and also enough for Judas to steal without his friends noticing. 

Ultimately, the wealth or poorness of Jesus isn’t a concern. The price Jesus paid on the cross was more valuable than anything He possessed and anything He could give us. We can now find freedom and salvation through our faith in Jesus. Those are high priced items.  People may always have questions like “How did Jesus support himself financially after He started full time ministry? Or Did they ever take an offering after Jesus preached?” However, the answers are not as important as this one.

Have you asked God for forgiveness of your sins and redeemed the high price Jesus paid at the cross for yourself? Have you asked Jesus into your life? Have you made Christ your Lord and Savior?

Those questions will lead you into the wealth and richness of Christ, but they have nothing to do with money.

John Simmons is the President of Testimony House Ministries. He writes a daily blog for Testimony House each week day. He is the author of God Has a Sentence for Your Life and Finding Faith. Follow John on social media @newjohnsimmons. You can also watch John hosts various live streaming programs on the Testimony House Network each week.