Jesus' Wealth

If you wish to be a success in the world, promise everything, deliver nothing.
-Napoleon Bonaparte
Christianity makes a thousand promises but keeps none.
-F. Nietzsche

Without question, the United States is the wealthiest nation in the history of human society; even the poor are wealthy by world standards. Unfortunately, the majority of Americans have a poor understanding of how our nation got this way.

Paradoxically, if Jesus was to be taken seriously, the most Christian nation in the world is also the most corrupt nation. His prejudice against wealth is well documented in the gospels, and I think, vaguely understood and rationalized away by Christians. I could not think of a stronger refutation of the immorality Jesus attached to wealth. For that, Christians have had to backpedal. It makes them feel better to think he was sympathetic towards the poor, which he wasn't. Preachers, for selfish reasons, distort Jesus altogether by arguing wealth is a sign of God's goodness.

Religion has not been entirely unsuccessful. There is still a lot of guilt and envy attached to wealth. So let me set the record straight. Wealth, in and of itself, has no moral attributes. Money is a physical object. It doesn't do anything; it is just there to act as a medium of exchange. There is hardly a person reading this report who does not wish to have more of it.

Money evolved to its present level of sophistication out of practical necessity. Complex societies could not exist unless humans could specialize at various trades. Money acts as a commodity or a form of property. It provides a common standard and a method of valuation with which to make exchange possible.

People trade because it is impossible to acquire basic needs alone. Every person or organization, whether they are exchanging labor or property, is in some way trading for personal benefit. That some specialties are valued more than others is an economic issue, not a moral issue. That the services of a doctor are valued more than the services of a plumber does not make either trade more or less moral.

Money also acts as a commodity for storing surplus wealth. Whether we save for a rainy day, retirement, a home, or business equipment, savings are vital to a robust economy. Yes, there are some people who have more savings or profits than they can spend. So they put it in banks. The banks, in turn, loan it out to others who can't save. Property rights or the right to keep what you earn is an important element that accounts for why some nations are rich and others poor.

Morality is a behavioral issue. It is how we acquire wealth that determines the morality of our actions. If there is peaceful exchange, there is no aggression and no immorality. If wealth is acquired by war, fraud or theft, there is aggression. Wealth can be abused, but again, that is a moral issue, not an economic issue. It is the demagogue and the envious who advocates aggression, not the peaceful capitalist.

There is a fundamental reason why demagogues don't like capitalism: Money affords independence. Demagogues obsess for control over others by exerting control over their personal wealth. Follow the money. When politicians say tax the rich, what they are really saying is that they want it. Jesus taught quid pro quo-take care of him and he will take care of you.

As much as the gospels try to hide it, there is sufficient evidence to believe that Jesus was not poor. He was aggressive as hell at trying to attach an immoral value to wealth. The irony is that religious organizations do not produce anything of tangible value. They could not survive without the generosity of believers who are willing to create and produce.

What He Taught

This report will answer the question every Christian wants to know: What would Jesus do? His theology is straightforward. Get rid of your possessions any way you can. He tells you how to do it.

I could not find any occasions where Jesus showed charitable concern for the poor. Every utterance was designed to steer wealth in his direction. The Old Testament God did not disguise his viciousness; Jesus' cruelty comes through sweet talk. What Jesus taught was class envy. He made the poor feel they had a better chance of getting into heaven and he fueled resentment against the wealthy.

The Perils of Wealth

To Jesus, if you believe in life after death and heaven and hell, you face a choice between your money or your life. To him you are the money tree. All he has to do is shake you up to have the fruits of your labor fall in his direction.

1. Possession of wealth prohibits entry into the kingdom of heaven. Do not save. You will only lose it anyway.

19"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal,
20but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.
21For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
24"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. (Matt. 6:19-21, 24)

2. It will be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.

23And Jesus said to his disciples, "Truly, I say to you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
24Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." (Matt. 19:23-24; Luke 18:24-25)

3. A man who seeks profits will forfeit his life.

34And he called to him the multitude with his disciples, and said to them, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
35For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it.
36For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? (Mark 8:34-36)

4. The rich will regret their wealth.

24"But woe to you that are rich, for you have received your consolation.
25"Woe to you that are full now, for you shall hunger. "Woe to you that laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. (Luke 6:24-25)

5. Parable of the rich fool-Luke 12:16-21

A rich man produced more crops than he could to store, so he decided to tear down his barns and build bigger ones. To Jesus, whoever stores treasures for himself is not rich towards God. He was too ignorant to realize that the rich farmer would sell his surplus to feed other people.

20But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?'
21So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." (Luke 12:20-21)

6. One must renounce all his possessions to be his disciple.

33So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:33)

7. Parable of the rich man and Lazarus-Luke 16:19-31

When they died, the poor man, Lazarus, was lifted to comfort in heaven, and the rich man was buried where he went down to flaming hell. His torment unbearable, the rich man looked up and saw Abraham. So he asked Abraham if he can you send Lazarus down with some water to cool him off. The chasm is fixed, said Abraham, so that no one can cross. Then the rich man begged Abraham if he could send Lazarus to warn his brothers what a place of torment this Hades is.

Abraham was not sympathetic: Let Moses and the prophets tell them. The rich man wasn't comfortable: But if someone comes from the dead they will repent. Abraham: If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if one should rise from the dead.

31He said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.'" (Luke 16:31)

Take care of Jesus and Jesus Will Take Care of You

As long as you believe in Jesus, he promises you have no reason to be concerned about your basic needs. He will provide if you ask. As much as Jesus praises poverty, he knows that people can't survive without the basic necessities.

The laws of economics teach us that in order to provide for yourself you have to provide something useful for others. Jesus would rather have you sit on your ass and pray for mammon to rain down from heaven.

Jesus will provide.

1. Don't worry about your basic needs for food and clothing.

25"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? (Matt. 6:25)

2. Don't worry about basic necessities; God will take care of you because he knows your needs. Don't think about the future; take one day at a time.

31Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'
32For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.
34"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day's own trouble be sufficient for the day. (Matt. 6:31-34)

3. The kingdom is like a hidden treasure.

44"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. (Matt. 13:44)

4. The kingdom of heaven is like a pearl. You have to sell all you have to buy your way into it.

45"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls,
46who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it. (Matt. 13:45-46)

5. If you sell your possessions and give to the poor, you will have treasure in heaven.

21Jesus said to him, "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." (Matt. 19:21; Luke 18:22)

6. Parable of Talents-Mat. 25:14-30; Luke 19:11-27

Jesus tells a story about a man who was going on a journey who entrusted three of his servants with five, two and one talent respectively. When he had returned, the first two slaves doubled their master's money to his satisfaction. The last slave hid his one talent under a rock for safekeeping because he knew, he says, his master was a hard man. For that, the master scolded him for not investing the money, calling him a wicked slothful servant. So the master took the one talent and gave it to the servant with ten talents.

29For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
30And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.' (Matt. 25:29-30)

7. Ask and you shall receive.

10For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
11What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent;
12or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?
13If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke 11:10-13; Matt. 7:7-11)

8. Whatever you ask for, he will do it.

13Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son;
14if you ask anything in my name, I will do it. (John 16:13-14)

9. Jesus will provide all the nourishment you need, if you believe in him.

35Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst. (John 6:35)

10. The less you ask for, the more he will give you.

23In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you in my name.
24Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. (John 16:23-24)

Jesus accepts alms.

Jesus prefers that you give in secret. This way nobody will know how much he is receiving. The more it hurts to give, the more he likes it.

1. Offer a gift at the altar for someone who has something against you.

23So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,
24leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. (Matt. 5:23-24)

2. Give alms in private.

2"Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
3But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
4so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matt. 6:2-4)

3. The State and Jesus determine what is yours and what is theirs.

17"Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." (Mark 12:17, Matt. 22:21 & Luke 20:25)

4. Give him that dirty money and everything will be clean for you.

41But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you. (Luke 11:41)

5. Sell your possessions and give alms.

33Sell your possessions, and give alms; provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. (Luke 12:33)

6. A poor widow gave two copper coins to help build the temple. Jesus was pleased that she gave more than she could afford.

1He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury;
2and he saw a poor widow put in two copper coins.
3And he said, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them;
4for they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all the living that she had." (Luke 21:1-3)

Jesus accepts stolen money.

Children learn early is that it is wrong to steal under any circumstances. Jesus takes exception as long as it is to his benefit.

1. Parable of the unjust steward-Luke 16:1-9

An employee was going to be fired for stealing from his master. On his last days, to find new friends who could help him find employment, he settled many of their debts to his master at discount. When his master heard about it, he commended the employee for shrewdness.

The moral lesson is that it if you steal to make friends with Jesus, he will be pleased to accept you.

8The master commended the dishonest steward for his shrewdness; for the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light.
9And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal habitations. (Luke 16.8-9)

2. Though Jesus counsels not to rob by violence or fraud, the parable of the unjust steward shows that he doesn't object to robbing by embezzlement.

14Soldiers also asked him, "And we, what shall we do?" And he said to them, "Rob no one by violence or by false accusation, and be content with your wages." (Luke 3:14)

Labor is unnecessary.

Do not labor for the food that perishes. How is that possible? All food perishes.

27Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal." (John 6:27)

Loans are encouraged as long as you don't try to collect.

Here is how it works. Be generous in loaning out money. This way you will have more to forgive and Jesus will have more reason to love you.

1. Give to beggars and do not refuse borrowers. Then why borrow when you can get the money with no strings attached, by begging.

42Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you. (Matt. 5:42)

2. Forgive our debts as we should forgive those who owe us money.

12And forgive us our debts, As we also have forgiven our debtors; (Matt. 6:12)

3. Parable of the unforgiving servant-Matthew 18:21-35

A servant faced the threat of him and his family being sold into slavery because they couldn't pay their debts to their master. When he pleaded for more time, his master forgave his debts out of pity.

The same servant had a fellow servant who owed him money. When the fellow servant pleaded for more time to pay his debt, the servant had his fellow servant imprisoned. When his master heard about it, he changed his mind about forgiving the debt and had the first servant jailed.

23"Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.
35So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart." (Matt. 18.23, 35)

4. The more debt you forgive, the more Jesus will love you.

41"A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.
42When they could not pay, he forgave them both. Now which of them will love him more?"
43Simon answered, "The one, I suppose, to whom he forgave more." And he said to him, "You have judged rightly." (Luke 7:41-43)

Jesus doesn't care if you squander your wealth, as long as you repent.

The Parable of the Prodigal Son-Luke 15:13-32

On the surface the parable of the prodigal son is one of most heartwarming Jesus ever told. Alas, Jesus told it to teach the twin obligations of poverty and repentance.

A man had two sons. The younger wanted his share of the inheritance so he could strike out on his own. After he spent everything, a famine came over the land. Dying of hunger, he went back to his father to ask for forgiveness for sinning against heaven and his father.

21And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' (Luke 15:21)

Grateful to see his son, the father had a fatted calf killed to eat and celebrate. The elder son was angry and refused to join the celebration. His father came out to plead with him. The elder son complained that for all these years he worked like a slave and always obeyed his father, yet he was never treated that way with even a young goat. He could not understand why the younger brother could be so wasteful and be treated so well.

Son, said the father, all that is mine is yours. Your brother was dead and now he is alive; he was lost and is found.

31And he said to him, 'Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.
32It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.'" (Luke 15:31-32)

Moral lesson: If the younger son was not impoverished, he would not have returned to his father to ask for forgiveness. Jesus knows that if you are desperately poor, your only hope is him. He won't make you rich, but if you repent he offers life after death.

What He Practiced

He had wealth

1. Jesus had a house where he invited Levi, wealthy publicans, sinners, disciples and many to eat meat. Meat was expensive in those days. The King James Version is especially explicit.

14And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him.
15And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him. (Mark 2:14-15 KJV)

It has been my observation that the earlier Bibles are more literally honest. The idea that Jesus had a house and could afford to feed large groups was embarrassing to later Bible revisionists. For example, the New International Version corrupted verse 15 to read Jesus had dinner at Levi's house. It doesn't make sense that Jesus would invite Levi to eat at Levi's house.

14As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.
15While Jesus was having dinner at Levi's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. (Mark 2:14-15 NIV)

2. Matthew also says Jesus had a home.

7And he rose and went home.
8When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men. (Matt. 9:7-8)

3. John also says he had a house.

38Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said to them, "What do you seek?" And they said to him, "Rabbi" (which means Teacher), "where are you staying?"
39He said to them, "Come and see." They came and saw where he was staying; and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. (John 1:38-39)

3. All those paintings of a skinny Jesus are a fraud. That he was known as a glutton and a drunkard, testifies to his wealth.

19the Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds."' (Matt: 11:18-19; Luke 7:34)

4. His disciples had money to buy food. We might wonder why Jesus would let his disciples buy food when all he had to do was produce some out of leftover bread and fish. (See John 6:11-13)

8For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. (John 4:8)

5. Jesus and his disciples had a money box that Judas stole from.

6This he [Judas] said, not that he cared for the poor but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box he used to take what was put into it. (John 12:6)

6. He dressed well.

23When the soldiers had crucified Jesus they took his garments and made four parts, one for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was without seam, woven from top to bottom; (John 19:23)

His anointing was worth the expense.

That Jesus didn't give a hoot about the poor is best illustrated in this incident. When a woman was pouring expensive ointment on his head, his disciples asked if the ointment would be put to better use if it was given to the poor. He was not sympathetic. "For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me."

6Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper,
7a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head, as he sat at table.
8But when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, "Why this waste?
9For this ointment might have been sold for a large sum, and given to the poor."
10But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, "Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me.
11For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me.
12In pouring this ointment on my body she has done it to prepare me for burial.
13Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her." (Matt. 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; John 12:1-8)

He pestered

1. When you want something from a friend, you are more likely to get it if you are persistent and annoying than if you trust the friendship. To put this in context, Jesus was lecturing his disciples on how to pray. His point was that if you pray persistently enough, God will give you what you want. That Jesus' God could be inconvenienced is silly; but we can be sure he applied this mindset to his daily endeavors.

5And he said to them, "Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves;
6for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him';
7and he will answer from within, 'Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything'?
8I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him whatever he needs.
9And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
10For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. (Luke 11:5-10)

2. We could think of Jesus and his disciples as combination door to door salesmen and wandering minstrels. Jesus sent seventy disciples without money, to go from town to town preaching and healing-that is the minstrel part. That they carried no purse, bag or sandals was probably to look poor.

The salesman part comes when they were also instructed to approach a house whenever they needed to be housed and fed. They were to offer peace to whoever accepted them and retract offers of peace to those who did not. This peace retraction had a special significance as we will see next.

1After this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to come.
2And he said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.
3Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.
4Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and salute no one on the road.
5Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace be to this house!'
6And if a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you.
7And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages; do not go from house to house.
8Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you;
9heal the sick in it and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.' (Luke 10:2-8)

He intimidated

1. He cursed those towns that weren't hospitable to his troops, with threats of making it worse for them than the people of Sodom. It is not hard to imagine his missionaries of peace cursing fire and brimstone at those who rejected them. They were comparable to a bunch of gangsters operating a protection racket.

10But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say,
11'Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off against you; nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.'
12I tell you, it shall be more tolerable on that day for Sodom than for that town.
13"Woe to you, Chorazin!woe to you, Beth-saida! for if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.
14But it shall be more tolerable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you.
15And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades. (Luke 10:10-15)

2. Jesus expressed his hostile attitude towards non-givers with a lecture about a king who didn't receive succor when he needed it. To Jesus, they deserved to be cursed into eternal fire. In so many words, he is saying you can buy yourself a ticket to heaven by being generous to him and his ilk. True charitable giving is not done under threat.

40And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.'
41Then he will say to those at his left hand, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels;
42for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
43I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' (Matt. 25:40-43)

He stole

1. Jesus and his disciples helped themselves to a farmer's grains. They did not ask, they just went into the field and helped themselves.

1"At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the sabbath; his disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat." (Matt. 12:1)

2. He sent two disciples to steal a colt. When the owners caught them, they said Jesus has need of it. Presuming the owners feared his wrath, they did not object. Either that or they were outnumbered.

30saying, "Go into the village opposite, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat; untie it and bring it here.
31If any one asks you, 'Why are you untying it?' you shall say this, 'The Lord has need of it.'"
32So those who were sent went away and found it as he had told them.
33And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, "Why are you untying the colt?"
34And they said, "The Lord has need of it."
35And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their garments on the colt they set Jesus upon it. (Luke 19:30-35)