Tuesday

Jesus and Money

I’ve been thinking about money; I’m trying to think about it from Jesus’ perspective, not so much what he said as what He did. His teachings are of course good, but we’ve buried them under so many layers of doctrinal lessons that it’s hard to see Jesus through the teachings.
Looking at money through the eyes of Jesus actions is quite interesting, and while there’s not a lot of data, what data there is is very eye-opening. The ways that Jesus dealt with the finances of His own ministry teach me about His values for money.
Professionally, I deal with a lot of ministries just starting up. They have vision for what they want to accomplish, and the hindrance is money, so they think about money a fair bit, and when they think about it, they talk about it. I know a number of churches that have two sermons every service: the first one is always on what is essentially “Why you should give us money.”
First off, let me say that Jesus taught on money a whole lot. It was one of His favorite subjects (along with the Kingdom of God, and the end times; He really liked controversial subjects!), so it’s appropriate for us to teach on money often; if Jesus thought it was needful in that day, it’s probably no less needful today. I don’t, however, hear Him preaching about “give to Me” even once, though there were people who did give to Him and His ministry regularly.
I see that Jesus’ ministry did have a money box, though whether that the plan of Jesus or Judas is unclear. Either Jesus approved of the idea or He tolerated it.
However, when He had a need, such as for an unexpected tax bill, He didn’t go to the money box; He told Peter to get the tax money from a fish. So either the money box was insufficient to supply “a piece of money” (which has interesting implications) or Jesus didn’t want to depend on His savings account (which has more interesting implications). It certainly implies that Jesus didn’t have much money.
That is not to imply that poverty was part of His lifestyle or ministry. Clearly that is not the case. On one occasion He hosted a banquet for “about five thousand men, besides women and children;” think of a restaurant bill of thirty thousand dollars. He was so completely not overwhelmed by the unexpected banquet that He did the same thing a few days later. Extravagant provision was a part of Jesus’ lifestyle.
There’s another example of extravagant expense that makes me scratch my head. While Jesus is having dinner with Simon the Leper (an interesting event on its own merit), Mary brings a jar of perfume worth “a year’s wages,” breaks the jar open, and smears it all over Him, getting it, no doubt, all over herself in the process, particularly since she apparently also wiped it onto His feet with her hair. I don’t know how much that cost, but “a year’s wages” sounds like a lot to me. Judas’s complaints were overruled as Jesus condoned the extravagant and apparently non-productive use of a very large amount of money.
So here’s what I see in all of this:
· Jesus lived extravagantly.
· Jesus appeared to not have money much of the time.
· Jesus counted on miraculous provision, and taught His boys to count on miracles.
Now my challenge is this: How shall I live in relationship to money.
Do I hide behind the disappointing fact that I have little capacity to invoke the miraculous, or do I embrace my failure and live with an inferior financial model? Or do I accept this as yet another challenge to begin to live a supernatural life?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

RIGHT ON!!!

Jacob Dandy said...

I think I see extravagance in certain aspects of Jesus life. I don't think that makes his an extravagant lifestyle.

Anonymous said...

I would suggest you read Greg Braden's book "The God Code"