Did Jesus have money?

Jesus did not have money. Jesus carried no money. We can know for sure that Jesus was not rich in monetary terms in this life because the Bible gives us stories and examples that prove that Jesus did not carry money.

Roman coins

Roman coins

We know this is so because when the Pharisees tried to trap Him, and He told them to “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s,” He first had to ask them to bring Him a coin ( Matt 22:15-21 ).

Also, in Matthew 17:24-27 we read that Jesus told Peter to catch a fish, open its mouth and there he would find money to pay the Temple tax. Jesus carried no money. He looked to His Father in heaven to supply His needs.

Jesus never asked people for money. He never hinted at His needs. Money that was given to Jesus and His disciples was held in community and used to feed the poor. Jesus, deliberately it seems, gave charge of the money-bag to Judas, who stole from it ( John 12:4-6). Judas was the person Jesus knew would betray Him – an interesting and telling choice as keeper of the money-bag.

However, for someone who made the decision to forsake money and possessions, Jesus had a lot to say, and to teach, about what our attitude to money should be.

My impression is that this is because, while God recognises that we live in a world where commerce is part of life, and we are to be responsible in handling what is entrusted to us, we are not to love or to serve money above God. We are to learn to be dependent on Him, rather than to find our security in this world’s institutions and currency.

It also seems that God assesses our attitude to Him by measuring our heart attitude to money and possessions.

Jews in Jesus’ day believed that riches were a sign of God’s favour. This was because the Law of Moses promised temporal blessings for obedience. Jesus’ parables and teachings were a shock to the Jews because they challenged the thinking that prosperity was a sign of acceptance and approval from God.

Christians who fail to see that we do not live under the Law, and who quote from the Old Testament in regard to blessings, fall under the same misconception as the Jews of Jesus’ day. The Law, we are told in the book of Hebrews, was a shadow of things to come. It pointed to Jesus, and to the fact that our focus should be on eternity and on blessings that are granted in the heavenly realm.

Jesus’ key thoughts on money are presented in the Sermon on the Mount. In ( Matt 6:19-24 ), He says to invest in the life to come. We do this through liberal giving – not a set church-tax of ten percent of our income, but open-heartedness. In this Scripture passage, between the initial thought of laying up treasures in heaven and the truth that we cannot serve both God and money, are verses 22 and 23 which talk about the eye being “the lamp of the body.” The verses seem to make little sense, in the context of money, until it is appreciated that, in Jewish thought, to have an “evil eye” is to be stingy and mean-spirited, while to have a “good eye” is to be generous.

Here we have a key to godly living: Give generously, but with discernment, with a view to His Kingdom purposes, trusting God to supply all your needs.

Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap Him in His words. They sent their disciples to Him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know You are a man of integrity and that You teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by men, because You pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is Your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and He asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?”

“Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then He said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray Him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

No one can serve two masters. 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 both God and money.”