If Jesus was poor—how poor? Homeless? An itinerant beggar? Or was He wealthy?
Let’s look at scriptures on both sides of this age-old argument.
Jesus was poor:
- In Luke 9:58 a man approached Jesus who appeared eager to follow Him without counting the cost. Jesus told him, “The Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Implying: “I don’t know where I will be sleeping tonight—think it over!”
- A missionary once told me Jesus was poor (and we should be also) because of 2 Corinthians 8:9: “Though He was rich, yet for your sake, He became poor so that you through His poverty might become rich.” But if Jesus became physically poor does this mean you and I will become physically rich? Jesus “became poor” compared to the “riches” He enjoyed in the Godhead
- He was born in an animal stable or cave of parents with humble means. His father was a carpenter/stone mason.
- He was buried in a borrowed tomb (Matthew 27:57-60—recorded in all four gospels).
- There is no record of Jesus owning property except possibly a house in Capernaum (Matthew 4:13, “settled in Capernaum” could imply home owenership—kataoikeo).
Jesus was not poor:
- He had cash flow. In John 4:8 the disciples went into town to “buy food.”
- Jesus and the Twelve had a “money box” to buy food or give to the poor (John 12:6 and 13:29).
- They were financially supported by women who had been healed by Jesus. Six to eight are named in the crucifixion accounts, but Luke 8:3 says “many others” also contributed.
- The Roman soldiers at the crucifixion would not tear his seamlessly woven robe but cast lots for it—implying the robe was of high quality (John 19:23-24).
- Scripture is silent on Jesus living as an ascetic desert hermit, which was common in those days.
So, what is your answer? I’d love to hear from you! (Comment below)
Why is this question important for gospel workers?
I’m venturing into ‘opinion-land’ here, but I strongly suspect that some gospel workers give themselves permission to avoid working on fundraising because they secretly believe that Jesus was poor. They might have an official budget, but they do not take it seriously. Since Jesus lived hand to mouth, they can too. It’s normal.
By contrast, today’s health and wealth preachers use these same verses to try to prove that Jesus was rich—he owned a house, an expensive robe and had a cash box—therefore you should be rich too. Nonsense!
Personally, I believe Jesus was neither poor nor rich, but that He had generous resources to accomplish the calling God gave Him. His lifestyle did not detract attention from His teaching. The Bible teachers of Jesus’ day, the Pharisees, had a reputation for being “lovers of money” (Luke 16:14). That accusation was never made of Jesus—yet he frequently challenged his listeners about money!
If you are not fully funded, please do not use Jesus as your secret excuse! He had enough money to be at maximum effectiveness to accomplish the His calling.
How about you?