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Open Letter To Jesse Duplantis
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Rebuttal to the Popular Modern Teaching That "Jesus Was Earthly Rich"
The first part below is the cover letter sent to Mr. Duplantis. The second part is the article mentioned in the letter. I have blacked out the Company information for Mr. Cunard but he can be reached by email at this link. click here
Article starts below:
Since much preaching today focuses on prosperity, which is a good thing, many of today's preachers/teachers are saying that because Jesus was rich- it's alright for us to be rich. Justifying our pursuit of prosperity does not require this kind of prerequisite. We are free to pursue the good life, as Jesus came "That we might have life, and have it more abundantly (IN 10: 10)".
Beyond the fact that this teaching seems unnecessary, it is a flawed theory, which is in conflict with at least four scriptures. These are outlined in this paper. There seem to be four major points that are being used to prove the theory of Jesus' earthly wealth. The first point usually mentioned is that Jesus and his disciples had a 'treasurer', referring to Judas Iscariot. The thought process is that since a group of men have a 'treasurer' they are obviously wealthy. It is true that Judas held a 'bag' (IN 12:6). Since thirteen men were traveling together, and pockets were not utilized like today, but bags were, it would make sense- even today- that they pool their money, and elect one person to handle the procuring of food, housing, etc. Just because Judas had a bag doesn't mean that it was full and loaded with wealth. When I was on the road with a rock band, we had a road manager. He booked rooms, collected money and made eating and travel arrangements, etc, Yet, we were dirt poor musicians. struggling for a break. I bet that many times his 'money bag' had about $2 in it!
Some claim that because of the fact that the disciples were mostly wealthy men-fishermen, tax collectors, etc. (a point which in itself is debatable), then it naturally follows that the money bag was loaded up. However, it was never mentioned how much money was collectively held, as it was not important for their purpose. Their mission was not one of comfort and luxury, They were on a spiritual journey with the Son of God. He could have come to Earth as a Pharaoh, a king, a Caesar or a multi-billionaire had He wanted, But He elected to come as a sacrifice, a lowly servant, born in a stable and to work as a carpenter. That was His destiny-not ours. Since it is assumed that the bag was loaded with money, let's also assume that none of it came from Jesus, which may very well have been the case. However, instead blossoming out into all types of suppositions and assumptions, let's stick to the facts only. The fact is that Jesus and his twelve disciples elected one guy to hold, and maybe to handle their money. How much that was is unknown. That is all that you can conclude from this, no more.
Secondly, the belief is fortified by stating that Jesus' clothes were gambled for (Mt 27:35), therefore they were of great value, and therefore he was wealthy. It's probably true that Jesus had a Rabbi's robe. It could have been made for him, or bought for him, or he may have even bought it himself. How many poverty stricken young men from the inner city ghettos of today are outfitted with $250. and even more expensive sneakers? Does that make them wealthy? If one of these boys died on the street, wouldn't it be possible for a fight to break out over these sneakers? When it's all boiled down, the only conclusion that can be intellectually drawn is that Jesus had some nice clothing, maybe only the robe.
Thirdly, (Luke 9:13) "But He said unto them 'Give ye them to eat' and they said We have no more than five loaves and two fishes, except we should go and buy meat for all this people". is used to "prove" the point that the disciples had enough cash on hand to pay for lunch for some 10,000 people (5,000 men plus women and children); probably some $50,000 or more, in today's money! The story further reveals that they were in the desert, with no place nearby to make such a purchase. Also, there probably was no store that large in all of Israel to handle such an order. Once the similar recounts are studied in Matthew and Mark, it becomes clear that the disciples' remark was one of sarcasm, Jesus was asking the impossible of his disciples prior to His miracle of feeding the huge mass of people, to highlight the fact that what He was about to do was impossible. After all, isn't that what a miracle is, performing the impossible? The resultant semi wise-crack by the disciples simply further set the stage for the soon to follow miracle. It is quite a stretch to assume from the disciples' remark that they had all this money on hand. Far easier to believe is the hopeless tone of the remark. which basically says- it's impossible. Further, remarks made by the disciples (Mt 14: 15-21 and Mk 8: 1-4) contradict the theory that they had plenty of dough.
Fourthly, preachers point out the fact that gifts of value (frankincense, gold and myrrh) were given to Jesus at birth, which is. of course, true. However, to assume that these gifts (the Bible doesn't mention quantity or a total value) were saved, invested, multiplied. and used to amass a fortune for Jesus is ludicrous. The fact that Jesus is God is forgotten here. He didn't need to rely on savvy relatives to accumulate wealth for Him. He could have spoken a billion dollars worth of gold into existence if that was what He wanted. The fact is that there is no proof whatsoever that Jesus desired earthly wealth. How silly to depict Him as relying on relatives to supply earthly wealth to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Where are the scriptures to back up this stretch of imagination? Where is the understanding that Jesus left behind the prerogatives of Heaven to become a simple, humble man- a servant, obedient unto death (Phil. 2:S-8)? Let's stick to the facts. The only fact here is that Jesus' Mom and earthly Dad received some nice birth-gifts, the value thereof unknown. What they did with them is anyone's guess, Maybe they gave them away. Maybe they bought a new donkey, who knows?
There are probably several other assumptions and suppositions which feather-out the basis of this teaching. Absent from this theory are scriptures which plainly say something like "Jesus lived a wealthy and prosperous earthly life". If that were true, wouldn't the Bible have plainly mentioned this more than a few times? The fact is that He sacrificed all for us. That was the Divine Exchange.
Here are some scriptures which back up the argument that Jesus lived in poverty so that we could be rich:
1. (IS 53 :9) "And He made His grave with the wicked and with the rich in His death". This prophesies that Jesus would be buried among the rich. If He was to be rich on Earth. why would it be prophesized that He would be buried with the rich? The rich usually are buried among the rich and that would simply be quite a normal event- not worthy of a prophecy. However, if a lowly man, a poor man, despised and rejected (IS 53:3) was to be buried with the rich, now that's newsworthy. worthy of prophecy. Of course, Jesus was buried in the tomb of the rich man, Joseph of Arimathaea. Had he been rich himself, Jesus probably would have had his own tomb, which would have been bought for him by his rich relatives, which was the custom of those days.
2. (2 Cor 8:9) " ... you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye, through His poverty might be rich". Pretty simple. He is God's son; you can't be any richer than that. You spoke the universe into existence (IN 1: 1-4). Y all left that behind (Phil 2:S~8). You elected to become obedient, humble, sacrificial servant, so that you could bring the gospel to a poor earthly world.
You gave it all up for us!
3. (Mt 8:20) ", .. the foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests,' but the Son of Man hath nowhere to lay his head". Even the simple life forms of His creation lived an earthly life in more comfort than He. His poverty set the stage for the most extreme sacrifice of all time. God chose to debase Himself to a lowly form so that we would not have to. What a Savior!
4. (Mt 19:24) Jesus said that "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for Q rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God" Jesus Himself warned of the pitfalls of too much wealth in those days. Like most periods of history, and like many parts of the world even today, there was no middle class. You were either dirt poor or filthy rich. Had Jesus elected to be filthy rich, it would have been comedy for Him to preach about the dangers inherent in wealth then, and of course, today as well. It is documented many times in scripture of His teachings about this area, which were basically warnings to the wealthy. It should also be noted that Jesus lived more than 90% of His life in Nazareth, which was a very poor tiny village, so poor that it had only one well.
Finally, a study on the history and the procedures of Crucifixion will reveal that Roman soldiers crucified only poor people. Wealthy men were not crucified by Roman soldiers. During the act of crucifixion, the three soldiers who stood guard alternated taking the shoes, the tunic (inner garments) and robes (outer garments). 'This was part of their "spoil". That is why, when they saw Jesus' robe they gambled for the right to take it. The taking of the clothes and the dividing of them in front of their victims was orchestrated to signal the final disgrace and chastisement to a poor, lowly, despicable criminal. It said "look ... here's all that you have left in the world, and we're taking even that from you. Now you are totally worthless. Your life has been one big zero, one tragic waste". It was the ultimate slap and the final insult to a poor man's crimina11ife. That was what Roman crucifixion was all about.
A rich Savior? Yes, He was the richest man to ever walk upon earth, but He lived here not as King Solomon, but as a lowly carpenter born with the sacrificial animals. He lived that way not because He wasn't able to live as rich as they ever came, but because He chose to live the way that said "I'm the King of Kings, and the good King lays it all down for His people". He chose not to be rich, so that we, in exchange, could.
Bless His Holy Name! What are your thoughts on this article?