This is pretty stunning. Of course, John the Baptist is a prophet and is determined to speak the truth of God and prepare the way for Jesus. John calls on me to radically change how I think about things (aka repentance).
And the crowds asked him [John], “What then should we do?” In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.”
Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.”
Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.” —Luke 3:10-14
So John is clear. If I have something, lets say two coats. If I see someone who doesn’t have a coat, like a poor homeless person, I am to give them, directly, a coat. I am to feed them, directly, if they don’t have food.
John, like Jesus, doesn’t say give to the church or your favorite nonprofit. John doesn’t say Rome and Caesar should take care of them.
John says I should.
End of discussion.
See what Jesus has to say in Matthew 25.
“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not [a]take care of You?’ Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Jesus had a lot to say about the homeless, wealth, prosperity, poverty, riches, the poor, the needy and giving. Here is a compilation of everything I have found. It is worth reading this to get a sense of what Jesus thinks about wealth and what He requires of us.
Hint: our priority is not to be material wealth!
When Jesus speaks about poverty, He knows what He is talking about.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich. | 2 Corinthians 8:9 (NASB)
Thus Jesus was born into a family that was part of the lower economic class. We see this material status has not changed 30 years later, during Jesus’ earthly ministry. Jesus’ comments on his own economic status, such as when he 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). The good news narratives bear out this testimony.
It appears that Jesus had very little by way of material possessions during his ministry. Consider the following: Jesus…
- preached from borrowed boats,
- multiplied borrowed food,
- rode on a borrowed colt,
- and was buried in a borrowed tomb.
In fact, most of Jesus’ material needs, as well as those of his disciples, were apparently met by donations from a group of devoted women who accompanied him. In his good news book, Luke refers to “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 [Jesus and his disciples] out of their means” (Luke 8:2–3; see also Mark 15:40–41).
It is worth noting, however, that Jesus always had money to run “the ministry”.
- He had cash flow. In John 4:8 the disciples went into town to “buy food.”
- Jesus and the Twelve had a “money box” to buy food or give to the poor (John 12:6 and 13:29).
- They were financially supported by women who had been healed by Jesus. Six to eight are named in the crucifixion accounts, but Luke 8:3 says “many others” also contributed.
- The Roman soldiers at the crucifixion would not tear his seamlessly woven robe but cast lots for it—implying the robe was of high quality (John 19:23-24).
- Scripture is silent on Jesus living as an ascetic desert hermit, which was common in those days.
So here is a little more.
- Hebrews 11:26 — Considering the reproach of the Messiah greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.
- Job 22:23–25 — “If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored; If you remove unrighteousness far from your tent, And place your gold in the dust, And the gold of Ophir among the stones of the brooks, Then the Almighty will be your gold And choice silver to you.
- Matthew 13:44–46 — “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.