Seventh-Day Adventists/Was Jesus Rich?
I know people who deny that Jesus was poor. They claim that such an idea is not biblical. I always thought that Jesus was poor. I respect you knowledge of the Bible. What do you say about Jesus being rich?
Dear Brother James:
I believe Jesus was from a poor family and that he never became financially rich. Look at where Jesus was born. Was he born in a palace? Was he born in a mansion? No, Jesus was born in a stable with the animals (see Luke 2:7, 12, 16). One could say that Jesus was born there only because of the circumstances unrelated to his family's financial situation. I believe that this next instance is directly related to Jesus' family's financial situation. Israelite women were required to offer a sacrifice after the birth of their child. The usual offering was a one year old lamb and a young pigeon or a dove. However, an exception was made for women from financially poor families. "But if she cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves or two young pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. In this way the priest will make atonement for her, and she will be clean" (Leviticus 12:8 NIV). Therefore, the purification offering that Mary offered should tell us whether she was poor or not.
"Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, 'Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord'), and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, 'A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons'" (Luke 2:22-24 NKJV).
I don't believe that Mary could have brought the offering of a poor woman and it be accepted by the priest unless she was viewed as financially poor by those of her day. Also note that Luke wrote this under inspiration and he wrote of this incident without negative comment.
Mary in her song of praise (a.k.a. the Magnificat) stated, "He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty" (Luke 1:53 NIV). Was Mary sent away empty by God? One the contrary she was filled with every good thing. In this song she said of herself, "...From now on all generations will call me blessed" (Luke 1:48 NIV). Not the reaction of a rich woman sent away empty by God.
Did Jesus somehow acquire wealth on his own? If Jesus was independently wealthy could he have told a fellow rich man to sell all his possessions and give the money to the poor while he remained wealthy? "When Jesus heard this, He said to him, 'One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me'" (Luke 18:22 NASB). Wouldn't the man have protested if Jesus was in fact wealthy, "Why haven't you done the same, rich man?"
Another strong indication that Jesus wasn't wealthy is that when he died he wasn't buried in his own tomb. His mother did not own or purchase one for her son. Jesus was buried in a tomb donated for him (see Matthew 27:57-60). Further what Jesus said concerning the wealthy is very telling.
"Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God'" (Matthew 19:23-24 NIV).
If Jesus was a rich man could he say such a thing and be taken seriously? Just as telling is Peter's response to Jesus' statement. "Peter answered him, 'We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?'" (Matthew 19:27 NIV). Peter and the others gave up everything to follow Jesus. Would they do this if Jesus was a wealthy man? As with the confrontation between Jesus and the rich man, wouldn't the disciples questioned Jesus as to why he hadn't giving up his wealth? Could a financially rich Jesus have said, "But woe to you who are rich, For you have received your consolation" (Luke 6:24 NKJV)? Wouldn't he have had to say, "But woe to us who are rich, For we have received our consolation"?
Based on these Bible verses I must conclude that Jesus was not rich. He was a financially poor man.
Thanks for the interesting question.
God Bless You,