For many people probably the number one roadblock to believing any teaching on Biblical prosperity is the idea that Jesus was poor. I could show verse after verse in the Bible which demonstrate God’s desire for us to be rich, for us to have an abundance (in order to bless others), and for some people the weight of Biblical evidence would be enough. But for others it would keep coming back to this same question, “But didn’t Jesus live in poverty?“. I could point to Biblical examples like Abraham, David & Solomon, but they would reply, “Well, yes, Abraham was rich, David was rich, Solomon was rich….but didn’t Jesus live in poverty?“. So in this post, I will look at this perception that Jesus was poor.
Jesus was born in a stable, because Mary & Joseph didn’t have enough money to stay anywhere else.
Let’s start at the beginning, no not Genesis, but the beginning of Jesus’ life on Earth. Jesus was born in a stable and His cot was a manger because Mary & Joseph didn’t have enough money to stay anywhere else. They must have been very poor, right? Actually no! If you remember the Nativity story as acted out by children every Christmas, Mary & Joseph spent a fair amount of time trying to book a room, before eventually being offered a stable. Contrary to popular belief Jesus was not born in a stable because His parents were poor, He was born in a stable because all the hotels (OK, inns to specific) were fully booked! Another reason that people think that Mary & Joseph were poor, is because Luke chapter 2 records how, after Jesus’ birth, they brought a sacrifice of two turtledoves to the temple, not a lamb. This goes back to Leviticus 12:8 which says, “And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons“. Firstly, this is referring to turtledoves, not turtles! Secondly, the King James Version does not say, “If she is not able to afford a lamb“, there could be other reasons why Mary & Joseph brought turtledoves, or possibly pigeons, instead of a lamb. Regardless of the reason, outside of this incident, the evidence does not support the argument that they were poor. For one thing, they had enough money for a room in an inn. Secondly, when the wise men arrived in Bethlehem, probably just under two years after Jesus’ birth (see ‘Daniel & The Three Wise Men‘) Mary, Joseph & Jesus were staying in a house – they had not returned to their home in Nazareth. Staying in a house, whether they were renting a room or the whole house, would have cost them money. They could not have done it if they were poor. The final piece of evidence that I will present to show that Jesus’ family were not poor, is one of the gifts brought by the wise men: GOLD! What do you think Mary & Joseph did with that gold? Put it on a shelf and dusted it occasionally, like some Christians do with their Bibles? No, of course they didn’t! They had the responsibility of looking after God’s Son, and they would have made the best possible use of that gold.
Did Jesus really sleep on park benches?
We have now shown that almost certainly Jesus’ childhood was not one of poverty (or at the very least, we have introduced reasonable doubt, with the burden of proof now being on showing that His family was poor). So let’s move to Jesus’ adult life and examine Matthew 8:20, “Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head“. This verse means that Jesus was homeless, He didn’t even have anywhere to lay His head at night, or does it? Did Jesus really sleep on park benches (or the first century equivalent)? No, this cannot have been what He meant and we will see why shortly. Jesus was not saying that He had nowhere to stay, He was referring to constantly staying in a different place, due to Him being a travelling Rabbi. How do we know this? We know it, because the Bible records Jesus staying in a number of different places. Here are some of the places that Jesus is either recorded as staying at, or potentially could have stayed at:
- His family home in Nazareth. Presumably Jesus would have been welcome here whilst in Nazareth.
- Peter’s house in Capernaum. Matthew 8:14, “And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother laid, and sick of a fever“. Again Jesus would surely have been welcome here.
- The house of Simon the Leper in Bethany. Matthew 26:6, “Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper” (Easy to Read Version).
- The house of Mary, Martha & Lazarus in Bethany.
- The houses of Jesus’ other disciples.
Jesus may even have had His own house by the beach in Capernaum, look at these verses:
- Matthew 9:10, “And it came to pass, as he sat at food in his house“, Jubilee Bible (2000) / “Once when He ate a meal at home with His disciples“, The Voice translation.
- Matthew 13:1, 36, “That same day, Jesus left the house and went to sit by the sea……Then Jesus left the crowds and returned to His house“, The Voice translation.
- Matthew 17:25 “After they had returned home, Jesus went up to Peter“, Contemporary English Version.
- Mark 2:1, “When He had come back to Capernaum several days afterward, it was heard that He was at home“, New American Standard Bible.
- Mark 7:17, “When he had left the people and gone home, his disciples asked him about this illustration“, Names of God Bible.
- Mark 9:33, “Jesus and his disciples went to his home in Capernaum“, Contemporary English Version.
Giving to the poor was a regular part of Jesus’ ministry.
Let’s look now at the subject of finances. Judas was in charge of the money of Jesus’ ministry and the Bible tells us that Judas was a thief. Apparently though, there was enough money available for Judas to be stealing without it being obvious. More evidence that there was no shortage of finance for Jesus’ ministry is found in John 13. After Jesus told Judas, “That thou doest, do quickly“, it is recorded that the disciples thought that Judas had either gone out to buy supplies, or to give to the poor. Clearly giving to the poor was a regular part of Jesus’ ministry, how could He be giving if He himself was poor?
Where did Jesus’ finances come from?
The question then arises that if Jesus wasn’t struggling to get by, where did His finances come from now that He was no longer working as a carpenter? The answer is found in Luke 8:2-3 in the Names of God Bible, “Also, some women were with him. They had been cured from evil spirits and various illnesses. These women were Mary, also called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out; Joanna, whose husband Chusa was Herod’s administrator; Susanna; and many other women. They provided financial support for Yeshua and his disciples“. Of course there could well have been other avenues of supply not mentioned. We know for example, that Jesus & Peter’s tax money came from a fish’s mouth!
Do you think that the Roman soldiers would have cared about tearing a poor man’s clothes?
As we bring this post to a close, let’s move to the Crucifixion. John 19:23-24 in the J.B.Phillips translation says, “When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they divided his clothes between them, taking a quarter-share each. There remained his shirt, which was seamless—woven in one piece from the top to the bottom. So they said to each other, “Don’t let us tear it; let’s draw lots and see who gets it.” This happened to fulfil the scripture which says—‘They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots’“. Do you think that the Roman soldiers would have cared about tearing a poor man’s clothes? Of course they wouldn’t, they would have just torn it up for fun and given everyone a piece. But the clothes that Jesus had been wearing were not a poor man’s clothes, they were good quality clothes that the soldiers desired to have for themselves.
In this post I have countered most of the so-called evidence that Jesus was poor. The truth is that Jesus wasn’t poor and you don’t need to be either.
If you have any further questions or thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment.
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