None of us was alive two millennia ago, so it is difficult for us to relate to the time that Jesus lived. I thought it would be interesting to measure Jesus’ life and lifestyle against today’s standards of a successful life. I want to do this by asking, “Did Jesus” questions. I will consider one of these questions per post.
Today’s question: “Did Jesus have a lot of money?”
Having wealth today is considered a sign of success, as a matter of fact it has been viewed that way throughout history. So let’s explore this question.
In the 8th chapter of Matthew (8:19-20) When a religious leader approached Jesus, telling him he would follow Him wherever He would go, Jesus responded to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Not having a home or a nice place to stay doesn’t seem to indicate that Jesus had a great deal of money.
In HIs teachings (Mat 6:19-21), Jesus told His followers not to store up treasures here on earth, but instead to store up their treasures in heaven where moths. He explained to them that their heart and their treasures will reside in the same place. If Jesus had accumulated earthly treasures, that would indicate that His heart was not on heavenly things, and we know that His heart was always residing in heaven.
Jesus taught against greed (Luke 12:15) when He warned His followers to be on their guard against every form of greed, since our lives don’t consist of our possessions. Teaching against greed also seems to indicate that Jesus didn’t work at amassing wealth.
In another of His teachings (Mark 10:23-27) Jesus taught His disciples that it would be hard for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God. Interestingly, the disciples were confused by HIs statement and thought then that nobody who was wealthy could make it into heaven. Jesus responded to their confusion by explaining to them that anything is possible with God. His point wasn’t against those who were wealthy, but against those who put gaining wealth as a priority over their relationship with God.
In the same vein, Jesus told His followers (Luke 16:13), “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” Again, He is talking about the priority of gaining wealth, not the condition of having a lot of money. Nonetheless, it is a further indicator that Jesus didn’t have much money.
Jesus even had to rely on the contributions of others in order to be able to travel around teaching and and ministering to the people. (Luke 8:1-3)
In contrast to the successful people of today, Jesus had no interest in chasing or acquiring wealth. Obtaining wealth benefits us, but doesn’t benefit God. I suppose one could argue that we should try to make a lot of money so we will have money to give to God’s work or directly to those in need who are less fortunate than we are. That argument sounds good but, if we are totally honest with ourselves, we probably are primarily interested in gaining the wealth primarily for our material wants and pleasures. Let me ask you one question: “If you don’t give out of your need, why would I think you will start giving when you have abundance?”
Maybe we should rethink the notion that wealth is a sign of success. Jesus didn’t seem to think wealth was a goal to be pursued, so why should I?