The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head. – Luke 9:58 In the fundraising seminars I have taught in many countries, this question generates the most enthusiasm and even arguments. We want to know how Jesus lived and what that means for us today. But let’s examine the evidence. Was Jesus rich? If so, how rich? Or how poor? Here are some clues on both sides.
Wanting to be like Jesus, some early church fathers became desert hermits. They owned nothing, had no employment, and spent their days in meditation and sometimes preaching. By contrast, throughout church history, many non-hermits considered wealth as a sign of God’s blessing.
Was Jesus Poor? Was Jesus Rich?
1. Jesus’ Parents
- Joseph and Mary presented their baby, Jesus, at the temple with two turtledoves (Luke 2:24). Because they couldn’t afford a lamb, doves or pigeons were acceptable (Leviticus 12:8).
- When the Magi visited Joseph and Mary two years later, they came to a “house” in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:11)—not a barn. Had their economic situation improved?
- In Nazareth, Joseph was a carpenter or stone mason (Matthew 13:55). Since Nazareth was only an hour’s walk from the Roman resort town of Sepphoris, Joseph likely kept employment in that ever-under-construction city.