Millionaire Jesus

Read the article from CNN.com. Was Jesus Wealthy?

Gold chains, diamond rings, Mercedes-Benz, & country club memberships. Reads like a Christmas wish list for a prominent Hip-Hop artist, doesn’t it? Actually, this is how the Prosperity Gospel portrays Jesus. If he were to have lived in our day, the Prosperity Gospel says this is what he would’ve had. That’s because they read their Bibles and all they can see is a Jesus that was given the finest of gifts at his birth. All they read is the narrative of how Jesus wants all his followers to be rich, so that they can help others. What’s so wrong with that? Money itself is not evil, right? It’s the love of money. Surely gifts aren’t evil, right? It’s the love of gifts over the Giver. But to the thousands that stand on the Prosperity Gospel, I beg you to listen to the testimony of Scripture. What does Scripture say about Jesus? Was Jesus rich? or was He poor?

His parents, Mary & Jospeh, were not rich – Luke 2:24, “and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the LORD, a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” (Lev 12:8, “And if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons…”)

Jesus’ greatest sermon warns against wealth – Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

His Disciples were called to be poor – Matthew 16:23-26, “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lost it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Luke 14:33, “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”)

His Disciples committed to a life of poverty – Luke 5:27-28, “After this he went out and saw a tax collector name Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.”

Jesus blesses the poor – Luke 6:20-21, “And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: ‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.”

Worldly gain are worthless in itself – Luke 9:25, “For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”

If Jesus was rich, why does he pray for daily bread? – Luke 11:3, “Give us each day our daily bread.”

Jesus tells the rich young ruler to give up his riches – Luke 18:22-23, “When Jesus heard this, he said to [the rich young ruler], ‘One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’ But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.”

Jesus commends the poor – Luke 21:3-4, “And he said, ‘Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.'”

The wealthy aren’t mocked as ‘King’ – Luke 23:36-38, “The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, ‘If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!’ There was also an inscription over him, ‘This is the King of the Jews.'”

The cross was a crude curse, not a form of reprimand for the rich – Deut 21:22-23, “And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the LORD you God is giving you for an inheritance.”

Jesus was a humble servant – Mark 10:35, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Philippians 2:6-8, “[Christ Jesus], though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”)

The prophesies about the Messiah weren’t exactly glowing commendations – Isaiah 53:2-3, “He had not form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Reading the Bible as a whole narrative of Redemptive History, we are pointed to the fact that out of humble origins, God’s raises up a Kingdom of Priests. And not the other way around. In fact, any man-made attempt at glory (riches & reputation, i.e. Gen 11) is judged, for man is not god, God alone is God. It seems irresponsible and completely irrational to come to the conclusion that all God wants for us in this life is to become wealthy & healthy, so that we can give more and more to others. That’s certainly true to an extent, but if we read the testimony of the whole Scripture, then we can’t but help to see that it was Jesus, who came to us as a humble and lowly servant, “that God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is LORD, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:9-11)

In that way, Christmas is a season not only to remember and celebrate the abundance we currently enjoy, but ultimately to remember and celebrate the gift we received in the city of Bethlehem over two thousand years ago, in joyful anticipation of the culminating joy and riches we will inherit with the second coming of Jesus in the age to come.

We are poor, yet we are rich in Him for God is our great and mighty reward. He alone is God, there is no other, not even money, not even my well-being. Grace through Jesus Christ is the gift of God to us in this life, for GRACE is God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.

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2 Comments on “Millionaire Jesus”

  1. ericsohn says:

    Merry Christmas Dan! Thank you for your blog. Your passion to love Jesus and honor His name and reputation is awesome! While I do not condone a prosperity gospel, I do believe that too much of the evangelical response to things is either a reaction or maybe even an over-reaction. God is showing me that He is far more creative than many of us allows Him to be. In the end, I don’t want to make my walk with Jesus primarily about sacrifice, but about passion. He loves the poor and the rich. The main thing is being in love with our God, who I am learning is far greater and dynamic than even our most sophisticated reformed theology. It would be cool to catch up some day and talk! I love your mind and heart for God! Press on bro!

  2. John says:

    Thanks, that was a good read…


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