Was Jesus Wealthy?

Q. I asked a friend at church what Joseph and Mary did with all the gold and precious spices the wise men gave to them when they came to worship the Lord. She told me that Jesus was not a poor man, that He wouldn’t have called up His disciples to leave their families poor and unfed, and that He wore the clothes of a rich man otherwise why else would the soldiers gamble for His clothing. This goes against everything I’ve known. I don’t think it’s a correct view. How could Jesus teach about forsaking money and possessions, yet be a rich man? That would have made Him a hypocrite, and that’s impossible.

A. Your friend is mistaken, and has probably been influenced by the so-called prosperity gospel teachers. Tradition has it that the gifts brought by the Magi were used to support the Lord’s family during the 2 years they spent in Egypt hiding from Herod.

Jesus never owned a home or any other possessions. He learned a trade, lived with his brothers and mother until he began his ministry, and after that wandered through Israel and the surrounding area with His disciples, sleeping under the stars. They were supported by contributions, and although they always had enough, were not wealthy. The soldiers did cast lots for his robe, a seamless garment of linen usually worn by royalty, but it was likely the only clothing he had. The Bible doesn’t say how He got it.

Of course at any moment Jesus could have come up with enough wealth to buy anything he needed any time He wanted it. He could have had a fancy chariot and horses, caravans of camels and servants, stayed in all the best hotels, and eaten at 5 star restaurants. But that was not His mission. He came to live an ordinary life, just like any one else, humbling Himself even to the point of becoming like a servant (Phil. 2:5-8).

None of this is meant to imply that Jesus was opposed to wealth. He just doesn’t like the way money often causes a person to be too focused on the things of this world, and not focused enough on things of the kingdom. That’s why He told us not to worry about money, but to trust that God would make sure that we always have what we need (Matt. 6:31-33). I think He practiced what He preached.

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