Did Jesus live as a wealthy man during His time on earth? According to the New Testament, He did not. Rather, He was born in a manger (Matthew 1; Luke 2), lived as an immigrant in a foreign country (Matthew 2:13-15), lived in a small town (Matthew 2:19-23), lived without a home (Matthew 8:20), and suffered and died for His teachings. He even had to borrow a coin to teach about taxes (Luke 20:24) and performed a miracle in order for Peter to find money to pay their taxes (Matthew 17:24-27).
Where did Jesus get the income He needed to eat and live? In His early adult years, it appears He lived at or near His family's home in Nazareth, working as a carpenter. Upon entering His public ministry, He relied on the generosity of others, moving from one location to another as a traveling teacher. Luke 8:1-3 summarizes this time period: "Soon afterward [Jesus] went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod's household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means."
Interestingly, Jesus was officially homeless during this time period. In Luke 9:58, He said, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." Instead, He and His followers sometimes slept outside or likely stayed with friends such as Lazarus.
In contrast, many prosperity teachers claim that faithfulness to God will result in financial prosperity. Yet Jesus clearly lived a sinless life (Hebrews 4:15) and also lived with humble means, even dying for His teachings. Instead, 2 Timothy 3:12 teaches, "all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." Those who teach that financial giving and faithful living will result in financial prosperity do so in direct contradiction with the teachings of the New Testament.
Of course, as fully God, Jesus is owner of the entire universe. Yet during His earthly life, He chose to live humbly, setting an example for others. Philippians 2:5-8 calls believers to follow His example of humility, teaching, "Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."
Jesus clearly lived a life marked by service to others, not a life marked by wealth and riches. He example is one His followers can learn much from today.
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