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Was Jesus Rich?

(Photo: Creative Commons.)

One of the most well-known facts about Jesus Christ is that He was not personally financially rich. It is also well-known that neither were His parents rich.

In fact, there is absolutely nothing in the biblical narrative to give any reasonable person justification to believe Jesus was rich at any time in His earthly life.

Nonetheless, one of the more ridiculous doctrines of the money preachers is that Jesus was rich.  Yeah, this is crazy, but they have to teach stuff like this to support their covetous gospel. 

Wouldn’t it appear contradictory to preach covetousness in the name of Jesus if Jesus taught and lived moderation?

Yes, it would, and it does contradict the biblical Jesus. Therefore, these deceivers modify the record of Jesus’s financial worth and material tastes. Let’s look at some of the myths of the money preachers.

Myth #1: Jesus Had Rich Parents

Money preachers often authoritatively state that Jesus had rich parents.  Obviously, this is to convince us He was raised in privilege and possibly inherited wealth. 

Since He is our example, we would then be more inclined to desire money.  And the more we desire money, the easier it is for money preachers to manipulate us. 

This is yet another astounding example of them taking us for fools. Do they not know there are Bibles everywhere?  Do they expect us to believe that a carpenter in a small village had somehow grown rich by making tables and chairs one at a time?[1] 

Let’s do what they are counting on us not to do. Let’s actually read the Bible. 

Born on the Ground Among Animals

It is common knowledge that Jesus was born in Bethlehem and that He was born in a stable “because there was no room for them in the inn,” (Luke 2:7). 

Here’s something I’d like you to consider:  Since when do rich people live by the same rules as poor people? 

“I’m sorry Mr. Trump, I can see that your wife is about to deliver her baby, but the inn is full.”

“Oh, no problem.  Just because I’m rich doesn’t mean I expect to be treated any differently than a poor person.  We passed by a manger on the way over here.  I’ll see if they have room for my wife to lie on the ground next to animals while she gives birth to my firstborn. 

I’m sure that sheep poop and urine don’t smell as bad as, say, a monkey’s.  We’ll all laugh about this later.”

Yeah, right. 

We both know that a rich man would’ve whipped out a wad of cash, stuffed it in the innkeeper’s hands, and Shazam!—wudda you know? 

“Mr. Trump, I must’ve overlooked this suite.  Here you are, sir.  You and your wife have a wonderful evening.”

Just something to take into account as you consider the claims of prosperity preachers and their claim that Joseph and Mary were rich. 

Jesus’s Parents Gave a Poor Family’s Offering

Under the law of Moses, a rich family was required to offer a lamb, and a young pigeon or turtledove as a sacrifice for a newborn child:

And when the days of her purification are completed, for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the doorway of the tent of meeting, a one year old lamb for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering.

Then he shall offer it before the Lord and make atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who bears a child, whether a male or a female.

Leviticus 12:6-7

A poor family, however, was to offer two turtledoves, or two young pigeons. The record shows that Joseph and Mary gave a poor family’s offering:

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 shall be clean.

Leviticus 12:8

So we can easily determine the financial status of Jesus’s parents by what they offered to the Lord. Was it the offering of the rich or the offering of the poor?

And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord

(as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every first-born male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”

Luke 2:22-24

This was a little over 40 days after Jesus was born.  So we know that very shortly after Jesus’s birth, His parents were poor. No surprise here.

Wise Men Provided Gifts for Traveling and Lodging

The prosperity preachers also contend that Jesus and His family became rich by the gifts of gold and precious spices that were given to them by the wise men who visited (Matthew 2:11).[2]

The Bible doesn’t tell us how much the wise men gave. So this is obviously self-serving guesswork on the part of money preachers. But this is to be expected. It’s what they do.

Yet for the sake of discussion, let’s assume the gifts were worth a lot of money. 

It may interest you to know that shortly after Joseph and Mary received the gifts, God warned Joseph in a dream to “flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy him…And [the family] was there until the death of Herod” (Matthew 2:13, 15). 

No one knows for sure how long they stayed in Egypt to escape the paranoid ruler of Israel. It appears to have been as long as two or three years.[3] 

But the issue is not whether it was two or three years. The issue is God’s providential care for Joseph, Mary, and especially their child, Jesus, in an emergency situation.

It appears that God caused wise men to provide money for their trip and living expenses, enough for at least two or three years. It’s important to note that the money was unsolicited, the trip was necessary, and it was God’s idea. 

How contradictory then for money preachers to use this example as justification to raise money for their lusts by extortion, bribery, and manipulation of God’s people.

Joseph and Mary Still Considered Themselves Poor After the Gifts of the Wise Men

Here is an interesting fact we shouldn’t overlook regarding the value of the gifts given to Joseph and Mary for Jesus. However much it was, they still considered themselves poor after having received it.

We know this because at least forty days or so later they gave the gift prescribed for poor people. If the money preachers are correct that Joseph and Mary were made wealthy by the gifts of the wise men, why would they do this?

Myth #2:  Jesus Had So Much Money He Needed A Treasurer

One money preacher noted:  “If Jesus didn’t have a lot of money, He would not have had a treasurer.”

Honestly, I am struggling to find a word that adequately describes a preacher who would say such a thing. Although I feel there are more accurate words, ignorant is as far as I’ll go.

This is the statement of an monumentally ignorant person.

The Bible doesn’t say Jesus had a treasurer. It specifically says Judas “had the bag” (KJV; John 13:29). Only a money preacher could get “treasurer” out of “had the bag.”

Money preachers turn everything into money because to them money is everything.

Furthermore, the Bible doesn’t say how much was in the bag. I carry a bag with me all the time. It’s called a wallet. But this doesn’t mean I’m rich.

A company has a treasurer until the day it goes broke. The presence of a treasurer, bag, or wallet says nothing about financial status.  

Do you see the obvious error and deception in this doctrine? Money preachers turn everything into money because to them money is everything.

Myth #3:  Jesus Had Expensive Transportation

This man collects firewood for a living. Does his ownership of two oxen make him rich?(Photo: Soneva Foundation, Creative Commons via Flickr)

What about the donkey Jesus rode as He entered Jerusalem? One wolf in sheep’s clothing said, “That donkey was the equivalent of a Cadillac. It was the best transportation of that day!”  

That’s funny. I thought horses were always considered more prestigious than donkeys.

Here’s what the Scripture says,

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!  Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!  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.

Zechariah 9:9

Jesus selected the colt because it was a sign of lowliness, not haughtiness or financial riches. Besides, the colt wasn’t even His; it was borrowed for perhaps less than an hour (Mark 11:1-6). 

Did your prosperity preacher borrow his or her luxury vehicle? What about his airplane or boat?

Honestly, sometimes I’m shocked at the brazenness of the lies of these people. But I have to keep reminding myself that a person under the power of demons will believe and say anything.

Absolutely anything.

Myth #4:  Jesus Wore Expensive Clothing

Prosperity preachers contend that Jesus wore extremely expensive clothing. Their proof? Here it is:  “And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots….” (KJV; Matthew 27:35).

Would Roman soldiers gamble for Christ’s clothing if they were not expensive? they ask.  

Okay, okay, I’ll give them that one.  Jesus did show up at one of His trials and His crucifixion wearing some mighty fine threads.  In fact, He wore both a scarlet robe and a gorgeous white robe. 

But before the money preachers ascend the Olympic podium for their gold medal, they should consider the lap they forgot to run. 

Remember the colt Jesus rode into Jerusalem? Mmmhhmmm…that’s the one.  It didn’t actually belong to Him, did it? Neither did these fancy clothes we’re discussing.

These robes weren’t purchased by the tithes and offerings of gullible Christians. Roman soldiers had contemptuously put the scarlet robe on Him once they stripped off His own clothing:  “And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him,” (Matthew 27:28).

And Herod added to the mockery by placing His own robe on Jesus:  “Then Herod, with his men of war, treated Him with contempt and mocked Him, arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe, and sent Him back to Pilate,” (Luke 23:11).  

In both cases, the robes were put upon Jesus as an act of contempt and ridicule.  

These facts didn’t require a spiritual Indiana Jones to find them. They’re right there in the Bible. How is it that money preachers who claim to be so deep in God and filled with revelation knowledge can be so ignorant of the obvious?

Can it be that they’re not ignorant? 

Perhaps they know exactly what they’re doing, and the only ignorant person here is you. This isn’t meant as an insult, but as a reasonable observation. 

It could be that they know the truth, but are counting on your ignorance of the Bible to keep that cash flowing their direction. Just give it some honest thought.

What Jesus Said About His Net Worth

We see that preachers have lied about the lifestyle and financial status of Jesus, but what does the Bible say about Jesus’s net worth?

Jesus Himself said, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay His head,” (Matthew 8:20). This doesn’t sound like the testimony of a rich man.

Would Jesus say, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth….” (Matthew 6:19)…

or would He say…

“Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses,” (Luke 12:15)

or would He say…

“One thing you lack:  Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven,” (Mark 10:21)

and not practice what He preached?

Would Jesus require more from others than He required of Himself? That doesn’t sound like Jesus. It sounds like a prosperity preacher.


[1] Joseph and Jesus were both carpenters (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3).

[2] Which is it, money preacher? Did they get rich by Joseph being a carpenter, or by the gifts of the wise men?

[3] The actual administration of the tax census/inventory occurred in 7 B.C.  This is what caused Joseph and Mary to travel to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born (Luke 2:1-7).  Six or seven weeks after the Lord’s birth, the family fled to Egypt to await King Herod’s death, which occurred in 4 B.C.  That’s a difference of 2 – 3 years.

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Eric M Hill

Eric M Hill is an author, blogger, YouTuber, and Bible teacher. He has written sixteen books. He is a member of the Authors Guild and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).

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