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Answers to your questions about life, religion and the Bible

Pastors get some of the darnedest, most interesting questions from people in their churches and people they meet. Here are a few that I’ve gotten over the years of my ministry and via email since this column started.

Dear Father Paul: My pastor says that Jesus was rich and that he wants all of his followers to be rich too. Was Jesus rich? — Candi

Dear Candi: The “Jesus was rich doctrine” is less than fifty years old, and is not borne out by a serious study of the Bible. It was started by a few preachers and T.V. evangelists who have themselves become rich by teaching this doctrine and getting (mostly) poor people to send them their hard earned money.

These men argue that Jesus was of royal birth, that he received fabulous expensive gifts from the Maji, that he was so well-off that he had to have a “treasurer,” and that he wore expensive clothes.

Each of these so called “Biblical facts” are half truths that upon close examination fail to prove that Jesus was rich.

The Bible indeed says that Jesus’ earthly father Joseph, was of the lineage of King David. The problem is that so were multiple thousands of other people in Jesus’ time. While being a distant relative of a long dead king might have conferred a slightly elevated social status to Jesus’ family, there is no evidence that it conferred any wealth. To the contrary, Joseph was a man who worked with his hands, a carpenter.

The gifts which Jesus received from the Three Wise Men after his birth ... the gold, frankincense and myrrh were simply that ... gifts, or tokens of esteem, not a kings ransom worth a fabulous fortune that would endow Jesus’ family for the rest of their lives.

Jesus’ so called “treasurer” was in fact one of the disciples, Judas Iscariot, chosen to carry the bag that held what little money Jesus’ band of followers pooled together to buy food. The Bible records that Judas often stole what little money there was.

The “expensive clothes” Jesus wore are spoken about during his trial and execution when the Bible says the Roman soldiers gambled over his (valuable) robe. The robe was indeed probably valuable, but it did not belong to Jesus. The Bible says that the robe was placed on Jesus by the soldiers to mock him during his trial. They placed the purple (royal color) robe on him and mocked him with shouts of “Hail, King of the Jews.”

Truthfully Candi, Jesus was not rich. He was born in a cave among farm animals. After his birth, at his circumcision ceremony in the Temple, his parents were only able to afford two doves for the required sacrifice. This was the least expensive allowable sacrifice and was offered by the poorer people of the day. The Bible says that the young family almost immediately became refugees, fleeing to Egypt to escape the death threats of King Herod. Later, they settled in Nazareth, a small town not noted for its wealth or importance.

Jesus spent the next thirty years in obscurity. At age 30 he became an itinerant preacher and spent the next three years wandering about the country living off of donations. He is not known to have ever owned a house or any land. When he wanted to be alone, he didn’t retreat to his villa by the sea, but out into the desert or up into the mountains alone. At one point in the Bible he says that he didn’t even have a place to lay his head. At another time, as recorded in the Bible, he didn’t have the money to pay his taxes and had to perform a miracle in which his words led a disciple to find the tax money in a fish’s mouth. His “Last Supper” was held in a borrowed upper room and his triumphant ride into Jerusalem was not on the back of a magnificent white stallion, but on a donkey. In the end he couldn’t afford a tomb and was buried in a tomb belonging to someone else.

Was Jesus rich? I don’t think so. Was he poor? I don’t think he was that either. His needs were met by God, period. Just like God promises to meet our needs, not our “wants.” Luke 12: 22 - 34 has the truth on this whole subject, in Jesus’ own words.

Dear Father Paul: Why does the Bible call the Holy Spirit “the Counselor?” — John

Dear John: “Counselor” means one who gives direction and guidance. Do you ever need direction and guidance? I do, almost every minute of the day! John 14: 26 says: “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit that my father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you.” Whenever we receive Christ, he, in the person of the Holy Spirit, actually comes and takes up residence in us, leading and guiding us (if we will let him) in wise and godly ways. If you find yourself messing up a lot, you need the Counselor.

Got a question for the column? Email me at or 678-457-3050.

Church of the Holy Cross, Fayetteville will hold a special Ash Wednesday service with the imposition of Ashes at 8 a.m on Feb. 6 ... and will begin special “Healing Sunday” services once a month with special prayers for the sick. First “Healing Sunday” is Feb. 10. Come and be healed. for directions.

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