Jesus was NEVER poor!

19 12 2009

Day 27

Let’s get something straight. You’ve heard it said that, to live a good Christian life, we need to be poor, because Jesus was poor, and we are to be like Him. I would like to know where people get the idea that Jesus was poor.

We would like to examine what the Bible has to say about it, after all, it is our best source of information on Him. For starters, leaving aside, for the moment, the fact that He came from Heaven, let’s look at His life on Earth. His mother, Mary, was to be the wife of a man named Joseph, a carpenter by trade, and not just any carpenter; he sculpted fine furniture for the elite and, as a self-employed businessman, this was a very profitable venture.

Just like today, travel back then still required money; and, to travel on such a long journey, from Nazareth to Bethlehem, on a moments notice, with a pregnant woman, necessitated having a substantial bankroll; especially, considering there would be no income during this time; and yet, their chosen mode of transport was a donkey, which, in their time, and place, was the best of the best.

Many people claim that they were so poor that, when they got to Bethlehem, they had to resort to staying in a stable. Scripture tells us that, when they arrived, there was no room in the Inn, which tells us, the Inn was their preferred choice; meaning, they obviously could afford it. We would like to interject a story here, that puts this scenario into today’s perspective…

A few years back, the Pastor of the church we were attending, traveled, with his pregnant wife, to a convention in a large city at Christmas time and, had neglected to reserve a suite before leaving. When they arrived, absolutely every hotel, motel, Inn, suite and B&B were booked solid. The Pastor, who, at that time, was still working as a self-employed businessman, making dentures, had enough money that he even offered to pay up to 10 times the going rate to get a room for his pregnant wife; but, was told it would not be right to throw someone out to make room for them, especially, in light of the fact that he was a Pastor, attending a Christian convention, at Christmas; go figure. They, finally, found room in a run down motel, an hour’s drive from the convention centre…

The second point we would like to make, in regards to this “so called” stable is that, in those days, everyone owned animals and, in order to protect the animals from predators, they would build their homes with 2 or more levels, and keep the animals on the ground floor, while the family would occupy the upper rooms, as they called them. So, when Joseph was unable to find suitable lodging at the Inn, they were offered lodging in the home of a local resident but not wishing to impose on the family, Joseph and Mary opted to stay in the lower room. Now, it’s important to understand that, the animals were only in there at night, and this is still part of their home; and, in most cases, there was no floor between the 2 floors; therefore, it was always kept clean. As for the manger, it wasn’t a wooden box, but an area on the floor, where they spread clean straw for the animals to eat. After the animals were done eating, Joseph layed down a blanket; and that would have, actually, been quite comfy.

While we are on the subject of Jesus, as a baby; Scripture is very clear about the arrival of the Magi from the east. They did not show up with the shepherds, but arrived 2 years later, bringing treasures for the new King. Treasure, that included gold, and you can be sure, that they would not have made such a long journey, to bring Him trinkets. It would have been a Kings ransom. For those of you who are not familiar with old eastern customs, it was a common practise, of the leaders of countries, to pay tribute to leaders of surrounding countries, in order to win their favor, so that they would not need to fear invasion; this, also, would allow them to travel through that country, to do their trading, without being attacked.

Scripture tells us that, the astrologers in these countries, foretold the coming of a great King, and that His Kingdom would cover the earth. Therefore, it would be wise for them to pay tribute to this King, as soon as possible. Now, just to make it clear, Scripture does not say, or even imply, that there were 3 Magi (kings) who came to see Him, it only mentioned 3 types of gifts; gold, frankincense and myrrh. Considering what I just told you, it is quite likely that there were many countries represented in this group, most likely a contingent of many allied nations, which could number in the hundreds, or even more, possibly.

They would have brought many gifts to please this new King but only 3 were mentioned because, these 3 served a specific purpose. Gold was always a representation of a King, frankincense was representative of a priest and myrrh was representative of burial. Therefore, these 3 gifts indicated that they were aware that this new King was also a high priest; and, that He would, one day, give His life for His Kingdom and be buried, in a royal tomb; and, the myrrh, would be used, to preserve His body.

As for the incident concerning this group and king Harrod; once again, it was common practice to send messengers ahead, to clear the way with leaders of the nations through which one must travel, so that they would not be seen as an invading army. Let’s take a look at that briefly. This group consisted of several high level dignitaries, bringing a large amount of treasure with them; and, they would be travelling through many countries during this time (which the Bible tells us took them 2 years). Such a contingent would, indeed, become subject to invasion by warring factions and nations with whom they did not have a peace treaty, as well as robbers of all kinds; and, even if they were skilled fighters, it would be highly unlikely that they would have made it, without having armies of their own, to protect them, as they travelled.

Any king, seeing a large army, like this, approaching his borders, would assume it to be an invasion and would mount an attack. This is why messengers were sent ahead to let the  leaders, of the countries they are travelling to, know that they were on a mission of peace and not of war. Leaving all other countries out, for the moment, let’s talk about king Harrod. He was a powerful and cruel and greedy man. If these Magi did not have an army to protect them, there would have been little they could have done to protect themselves from being taken prisoner by Harrod, and slaughtered, leaving all that treasure for him to take for himself.

Knowing all this, it must have been a spectacular sight to see, when they arrived in Nazareth and approached Joseph and Mary and their 2-year-old son, Jesus, to present Him with their gifts. Oh, yeah, in case I forgot to mention it, the Magi did not arrive in Bethlehem, as most believe, because Joseph and Mary only travelled there for the census and, after Jesus and Mary were able to travel, they went back to their home in Nazareth, which is why the Magi had to enquire as to where they could find Him.

They were aware that He would be born in Bethlehem; but, since it took them 2 years to get there, they asked where to find the one born to be “King of the Jews”, assuming everyone in the area would have been aware of His arrival and would know where to find Him. Jumping ahead a bit, after the Magi returned home by an alternate route, Joseph learned, in a dream, that Harrod wanted to kill Jesus; so, he took Mary and Jesus and went to Egypt, for a couple of years, until it was safe to return. This trip, alone, would have been expensive, not to mention the cost of living, all that time, while in a foreign country, plus the return trip.

Moving ahead to Jesus’ adult life; it appears, Joseph must have passed on, and Jesus has taken over the family business. When it was time for Him to start His ministry, He passed the business on to His brother James (James 1:1) and, being a righteous man, He would not leave His mother and siblings destitute (yes, Joseph and Mary had other children); plus, it takes a lot of money to finance a ministry, even back then.

Let’s consider the men He called to join Him; fishermen, tax collectors, etc. All, well-to-do, businessmen, who would never leave their lucrative incomes, unless they knew their needs would be met; and don’t go getting all super-spiritual about it, they still had families to take care of,  not to mention, everyday needs, such as food and shelter and clothing.

REMEMBER, Jesus was a businessman, like His father Joseph; and, He conducted His ministry like a business, in fact, He even had a treasurer, it’s true. In case you’re not aware of the fact, the only time someone, actually, has a treasurer, is when they have a lot of financial transactions taking place and they need someone to look after all that, so they can stay focused on the task at hand; namely, His ministry.

To push the point a little more, His Treasurer, named Judas Iscariot, was a thief. Scripture declares that, he continually stole from the treasury, and no one seemed to notice, which proves there was a lot of money there. Scripture says, Jesus went about doing good, He was always giving money to the poor, in fact, that was one of Judas’ main tasks, to go and give money to someone in need.

Once, when Jesus was preaching, there were 5,000 men, plus women and children, listening to Him. It was getting late, and His Disciples thought they might go to town to buy enough food to feed them all. Although Jesus had other plans, the idea of spending so much, to feed all those people, was never an issue. Can you imagine, feeding several thousand people, if you are poor?

So why does the Bible say, Jesus was made poor, so that we could be rich? Well, when He was crucified on the cross, that was considered a poor mans’ execution; they would never do that to a rich man; so, in that sense, yes, He was made poor, at the end, yet was buried in a rich man’s tomb.

But lets look at the rest of the verse, He was made poor, so we would be made rich; so, whether we are to be like Him (and He was rich), or believe, that this verse actually meant, He really was poor; it would follow, that He meant for us to be rich. In either event, it is abundantly clear, that God wants us to be rich, financially (not to hoard it to ourselves but to use it to help others; see Say – See ; Give – Receive).

Sorry we went a little over our 1,000 word limit, hope you don’t mind, this subject is so involved that we are going to have to continue it in a later post, so until then, keep tallying up your new converts, and your pennies (how many is that now…hmmmm?!).

… catch ya on the flip side.

 

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3 responses

22 12 2009
Joy

Thank-you so much for helping me to see the truth about Jesus’ financial situation.

22 12 2009
Michelle Stopa

Well said, awesome.

24 12 2009
Gus & Luz Isaac

Thank you for taking time to read this post. Please feel free to return as often as you like and enjoy the many other posts in our Blog.

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