by Diane M. Hoffmann
Someone sent me an email saying that he had found the "proof" in scripture to confirm what some are saying, including apparently Dr. David Jeremiah in this case, about Jesus being rich when He came to minister the need for Salvation...
Here is my answer:
There is a modern school of evangelists who proclaim Jesus was a rich man... such as Oral Roberts, Creflo Dollar, Kenneth Hagin, John Avanzini, etc... They do this to support their claim of the gospel of prosperity by twisting and misinterpreting scriptures. As for David Jeremiah, he is usually pretty good in his teaching, so I don’t know why he got himself into this also.
However, in the scripture verse you quote, 2 Corinthians 8:9, Paul is speaking of spiritual matters - not financial or physical.
Again, one must read scriptures IN CONTEXT.
The passage is speaking of the rich grace of God given to the church: "Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.” (2 Cor.8:1-2)
Jesus became poor by leaving his heavenly riches and by humbling himself to earth. He stripped Himself of all the glory of heaven to come down here among His creation and becoming a servant of all.
Yes Jesus IS rich…
He owns every beast of the forest and the cattle upon a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10)
"Hath in these last day spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by shom also he made the worlds..." (Hebrews 1:2)
"Who (Christ), being in the form of god, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself..." (Philippians 2:6-7)
But He left it all behind in order to come down to this sinful earth and become the ultimate example of humility for us to follow - and the ultimate Sacrifice for our Redemption.
As for his so-called “wealthy family”, etc… what does the Word of God say?
Let’s look at just some of what we know from scripture:
1._"Behold, your King is coming to you; he is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey." (Zech. 9:9)
2._Jesus gave up all the riches that are his in heaven to become a man and was born to a poor family. His stepfather was a carpenter, if they had money from the gold given at his birth (as some claim) he would not have had to work. And from what we read in the story, Joseph passed away early in Jesus’ life for there is no more mention of him; he left behind a widow and children without a father to carry on. We see Mary his mother, with other women friends and relatives, often following with him throughout His ministry.
3._Archeological excavations of Nazareth from the 1950’s show the village of Jesus' day were occupied by poor agricultural people. As Jesus grew up he worked in the trade of a carpenter, not a trade known for its wealth.
4._When the birth of Jesus was announced to Mary, she said in her magnificat discourse (Luke 1:48,52, 53)
“For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. her praise say “He has filled the hungry with good things and the rich he has sent away empty.”
“He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.
“He has filled the hungry with good things and the rich he has sent away empty
5._When Jesus was presented in the temple, his parents sacrificed two turtle doves which, according to the Book of Leviticus (12:2-8), was the sacrifice offered by poor people.
6._Jesus was born in a stable. His folks knew the approximate time of his birth, if they were a wealthy family they would have reserved a place. But there was no room and they were given a spot in a stable.
7._A certain scribe came to Jesus and said to Him: "Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go." And Jesus answered: "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." (Matthew 8:19-20).
Jesus himself had no place to lay his head, no permanent home, he constantly traveled. He dressed like everyone else, he even said to forsake this world in order to inherit His kingdom. His kingdom is not of this world and he made it perfectly clear in His teachings.
As an itinerant preacher he depended on people like Lazarus and his family and well-to-do admirers to provide for him and his disciples, such as mentioned in Luke 8:1-3.
8._"Soon afterward Jesus began a tour of the nearby towns and villages, preaching and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom of God. He took his twelve disciples with him, along with some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases. Among them were Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons; Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward; Susanna; and many others which ministered unto him of their substance"
9._In the story of the miracle of the feeding of 5,000 people (Mark 6:32-44), Jesus asked the disciples to feed the hungry people who have sat all day listening to His teaching. They responded by saying that what they had in money was not enough to buy food. Hardly an indication of a ministry with lots of money as some proclaim.
10._When Jesus and Peter were asked about paying the Temple tax, they didn’t have the money. Matthew 17:24-27 says: “When they had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, "Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?" Jesus said to Peter, “lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for me and you."
11._The Bible says Jesus was so poor that he couldn’t afford his own tomb for his burial.
He was buried in another man’s tomb, a rich man’s. If he or his family was rich they would have buried him in his own family tomb. Neither did his family nor the apostles have the money to by such a burial, it was borrowed or actually, donated to be exact. Jesus in his ministry had borrowed often: He borrowed a manger, He borrowed boats, He borrowed a colt; He borrowed a room for Passover and He was buried in a borrowed tomb. He had been given most of everything He needed to live his humble life also.
12._As for Jesus' seamless garment in John chapter 19 that many also use as being a sign of wealth…
Tradition says that his mother had made it, however there is no scripture to confirm this. But there is an report in Acts 9:36-39 that tells of a disciple named Tabitha (also knows as Dorcas) who was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did, who died. She was very well known to the disciples, so much so that they called for Peter to come to them so they would all go and visit her death bed.
The Bible says: "Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them. Now you put this all together, it is quite possible that she would have woven this garment for the Lord.
In http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/john1923.htm we read: “This seamless garment was likely given to Jesus as a gift from his mother, since it was customary for Jewish mothers to make such a garment for their sons as a last gift before they entered the world on their own.”
Then it continues with some other details about a Messianic prophesy: “Cutting it into four pieces would have made it useless. John makes a special point to tell us that this was in fulfillment of a Messianic prophecy (Psalm 22:18 - They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture). John was also likely making a reference to the seamless tunic worn by the high priest in the Temple service (Exodus 28:31-32; Exodus 39:27-29). The priest stood as mediator or liaison (the Hebrew word literally means "bridge-builder") between God and humankind. He offered sacrifice for the sins of the people. Jesus is the perfect High Priest who opens the way for all to enter into the presence of God by offering the perfect sacrifice for the sin of the world (see Hebrews 5)”.
All of this was part of God’s plan and God provided what Jesus needed during His ministry on earth.
So the question is: Are we going to believe the Word of God or the words of a modern school of evangelists that proclaim that Jesus was a rich man by twisting, misinterpreting, and the carnal reading of the scriptures --
"For the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
We need to think like Jesus when we read the Word of God.\dmh
Diane M. Hoffmann, B.Th., M.Th., Ph.D./Th.
Author of "24 Hot Potatoes in the Church Today"
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