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As the second person of the Trinity, Jesus is as rich as God is rich. Indeed, our Lord owns everything and possesses all power, authority, sovereignty, glory, honor, and majesty (Isaiah 9:6; Micah ...
In some ways it is difficult for a modern person living in the west to relate to life's realities in Palestine 2000 years ago. However, those people were already the beneficiaries of many modern financial innovations that drive our economies today, denominational currency, standard weights & measures, local, regional & international commodities markets, business districts, defined trades and etc. The lower rung on the social ladder would be day laborers. (60% of work force). Joseph probably hired day laborers as needed before his boys grew to be big enough to help. Jesus came from a small town, his family owned a business, his father was a craftsman and builder whose trade was well established before he married and had children. We might think of him as a local contractor. He was well respected and doing well enough to take a wife. When Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem, they had "walking around money" and were planning on an extended stay of at least 40-50 days: travel to, census, New Years Holiday, Brit Milah, Dedication, Mary's post childbirth 40 days. They had enough money to travel to Egypt. The Family was also visited by Eastern Magi who gave them valuable gifts including gold. Upon their return from Egypt they had the means to determine which town to settle in, and ultimately chose one a little further away from their first choice due safety concerns. Jesus was the oldest child, ran the family business, and was the head of household for some period after Joseph died as his younger siblings came into adulthood. After which he became a full time preacher at about the age of 30. We might understand him as "middle class", but middle class back then was much grittier and more agrarian than it is today, much closer to the earth and they lived their life in much closer proximity to what we think of as abject poverty or despair. Jesus, who owns the universe, chose to live a life of relative financial poverty and was dependent on the kindness of strangers when he left the family business and entered His Ministry. He had nothing against wealth and some of his most important financial supporters were wealthy women. He didn't watch the money, he had a purse bearer, Judas, for that. They raised more money than they needed for their activities and donated to charity / the poor, though they were dependent on the generosity of others as well. When Jesus died, his only possessions were the clothes on His back. His one "luxury" item was a shirt with no seams woven on an upright loom. That is why the soldiers rolled dice for his clothes, the shirt as a whole piece retained far more value than the typical one that was made of 4 to 6 patches that could be divided easily.. Several of the disciples who traveled with Jesus were well off financially before they entered the ministry as well as an example Matthew was a contractor for the Romans and held the customs concession in Capernaum, and James and John were in a family fishing business that was big enough to hire workers etc. Wealth isn't the problem, greed, gluttony, envy and idolatry are. Jesus is the solution.
Jesus taught us that wealth makes it nearly impossible to live in the Presence, as Kingdom people on this earth today. He was surrounded by rich men with family businesses. He had seven half-brothers presumably working for his step-fatherJoseph, building fishing boats for the likes of Simon, Andrew, families who ran a fishing business, employed men. Peter on 3 occasions left following Jesus to return to the family business. Mark was so rich that they had a large house in the city centre with banqueting hall large enough to accommodate all the disciples, had servants to meet them at the gate and provide beds. In 2003 Jeremy Bowen, the BBC middle east correspondent made a documentary where he visited Capernaum where the foundations of Jesus family home still lie. The only space in the town large enough to accommodate a woodwork shop also has a slipway into the Sea of Gallilee. There are no trees around the lake, so wood had to be imported from Lebanon. Jesus' family were boatbuilders, these fishing boats were 28 or 30 foot seafaring working boats. Do you know any poor shipowners, or shipbuilders/naval architects? Jeremy Bowen also explained why Capernaum was in ruins. The Romans destroyed the town in retribution, about the time when Jesus would be aged 14. Families took to the hills to escape. He did indeed give up His earthly wealth, and encouraged His disciples to do the same. Especially the rich young ruler whom He loved (probably Mark). Don't forget that the Magi brought the Holy family rich gifts. And when Jesus reached the age of Manhood, at His Bar Mitzvah, when the boy would join in the family business Joseph would have taken great offence when Jesus chose to be an apprentice Rabbi rather than take over the family business. There is evidence throughout the Gospels that this itinerant teaching mission continued to offend and anger Joseph... how may times did Mary and her sons come to plead with Jesus to return home with them for Hannukah, Shabbat, and a safe bed to sleep in but He would not. Still, that beautiful hand-woven cloak, with the 24 brightly colours tassels on the hem, using rare and very expensive dyes gathered from across the world. So unique that even the Roman soldiers recognised its value and would not tear off the most valuable trimmings.
Was Jesus rich or wealthy? In a material sense, Jesus was poor and came from a poor family although not poverty stricken. There is no record indicating that Joseph ever went on welfare or his family was forced to beg. One basis for concluding that the family was not wealthy is the sacrifice that was offered for Mary’s purification from the legal uncleanness of childbearing. (Leviticus 12:1-5) After the 40 days of purification for a male child, Mary was to go to Jerusalem and offer a one year old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering. (Leviticus 12:6) "But if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two young pigeons, the one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for her, and she will be clean." (Leviticus 12:8) In Leviticus 5:7-11 this same sequence of sacrifices is outlined for a sin offering. As a further concession, one who was not even able to afford two birds, could offer a portion of fine flour, but without the usual more expensive fragrant accompaniments of oil and frankincense. (Leviticus 5:11). Because Mary offered birds instead of a “lamb” or “fine flour”, it has been concluded that Joseph was neither rich nor poverty stricken. (Luke 2:22-24) In other words, the family was poor working class and lived from day to day. (2 Corinthians 8:9) So, Jesus was raised in a family who probably had sufficient sustenance but no luxuries. In this regard, he lived out his model prayer, “give us this day our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11)
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