Kyb, its always been a pleasure disagreeing with you, and this has been no exception – but the post is now so long, I’m putting it in as new post, a link to the original is here, see the comments for the start of our discussion.
For the unitiated, my initial assertion was that I Jesus was homeless and skint, Kyb employed his considerable intellect to make certain disagreements, we discussed it, and ended up here:
Kyb’s points are in italics, and my responses to them are in normal text.
They absolutely had the money to pay the temple tax. Peter had no hesitation in answering “Yes he does” to the people who asked if Jesus paid the temple tax. The fish thing is a gigantic joke by Jesus who wants to avoid making his disciple look a fool while at the same time claiming exemption from the tax.
Peter’s response is an impulsive one, a defensive response to his master’s honour – much like the ear cutting off incident.
My take on the fish incident is in part what you describe, a disarming sleight of hand, a piece of physical theatre, which is something else he liked to do.
He did have somewhere to live – with his family, who at one point came to take him home, but chose not to, instead staying with his friends and disciples around the country, many of whom were wealthy.
This is semantics, under this assessment, everybody has somewhere to live, for is there really nobody who would take them in? No, Jesus says: “foxes have holes… etc (Matt 8: 20) which has long been understood to mean that Jesus was entirely dependant upon God and the charity of others for a place to sleep. Even the Pope in 1997 said about this passage: “The Lord wished to show his total openness to his Heavenly Father, whose will he was determined to carry out without letting himself be hindered by the possession of worldly goods: for there is always a danger that earthly realities will take the place of God in the human heart.”
In fact, I don’t believe that he forced his mother into poverty because of his mission, I think part of why he probably started his mission so relatively late is because before that he was assuring her and his own financial independence (since Joseph seemed to be no longer in the picture).
Jesus didn’t start his ministry late, it would be normal for a levitical priest/ rabbi to collect his disciples at the age of 30.
I can’t believe that the same guy who preached against the teachers of the laws use of Corban to avoid providing for their parents would neglect his own duties to his family and younger siblings.
There is not necessarily a question of leaving his family in poverty, as you point out they had a home, his brothers were probably of working age, Joseph may still have been around, and when he was crucified, he commended his mother to his disciple’s care. Anyway, you might say he had a greater responsibility…?
Of course the soldiers only had his clothes to divide up – none of his property was in Jerusalem, and when they arrested him, they took only him, leaving his camp full of disciples and the communal belongings behind.
I don’t know why you think the guy who said ‘dont store up for yourself treasures on earth’ had property, or where you think he would have kept it. Did nomadic rabbis have lock up garages?
His disciples picked wild food to eat as they were walking through a field, as anyone would. They also had no problem going into town to buy food while he met the woman at the well, or renting an upper room. Even after he died, they were able to remain in the city, eat, living without having to revert back to their old jobs.
Ok, I’ll give you this, I do think they probably had some money now and then, but not a lot. I doubt they would have had to buy a lot of food or hire a room, I think there would have been a culture of hospitality in the 1st century Palestine just as there is now. This ties in with the common misconception that Joseph and Mary would have had to go to a ‘hotel’ in Bethlehem, a hotel? What do people think? That Premier Inn had a Bethlehem branch? The natural thing would have been (since they were going to the town of their ancestors) that they would stay with relatives, but somehow we’ve misconstrued the word used into the idea they went to stay with mr innkeeper. Nice for nativity plays, just doesn’t make much sense. If we consider this wider question in the light of what we know about the culture of the place and time, these holy men wouldn’t have been likely to pay for such hospitality.
Luke 9:14 ” They answered, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.” 14(About five thousand men were there.)
That may have been sarcasm, but strongly suggests to me that they had at least eight months wages in the kitty (which Philip tells us wouldn’t quite be enough).
I don’t know what the protocol would have been for this kind of situation, or who would have been regarded the host, and who the guests, but there is an implicit assumption on your part that the disciples would have bought the food with their own funds, which is not necessarily correct. The parable here may be more to do with people co-operating than we think. I don’t want to take away from the supernatural ability of Jesus, but I am minded to think that maybe it was the simple act of sharing which provided the answer here…
As a Rabbi, he would have been responsible for his disciples, I don’t think he would have taken that responsibility on if he didn’t know he could look after them.
Don’t you think he knew God would be able to provide for them? In Matthew 6, he tells other people to expect that God can provide for their needs, so why wouldn’t he expect God to provide for his?
I’m not sure why you think Judas only took the 30 pieces of silver with him on desertion. In fact, according to Matthew, he tried to return the money when he realised what he’d done. It wouldn’t have made sense to try to return the 30 pieces plus the contents of the kitty. I suspect that he didn’t expect them to actually execute Jesus, otherwise he wouldn’t have been so remorseful, and that he almost certainly left the kitty with the other disciples when he went to commit suicide.
Yeah maybe I’m wide of the mark on this one, but I don’t see any evidence of Judas being left with any money, or the disciples having a polite chat with Judas in the aftermath… “I say Judas, you really have done it now, you’d better sling your hook old chap, and don’t even think of taking the dosh you blighter.” I see the suicide as a final act of someone who knew he had blown it completely, filled with remorse and desperation, who threw the coins back at the priests, who wouldn’t accept them back as they were blood money, and went and hung himself, unable to return to his friends or former life. Unless your take is that Judas’ betrayal was an attempt to precipitate a revolution, which I accept as a possibility, another large possibility is that it was motivated by money.
Women were prepared to give their entire dowry to Jesus in costly shows of affection. Tax collectors and very wealthy men left their professions to do whatever he said. He was invited to parties all over the place. I think there would have been many gifts to his kitty – to the extent that it would be worthy stealing from, and thinking that there was enough there that you’d get away with it too.
The specific incident you mention is notable because of many reasons, for one thing, the disciples said: “This could have been sold, and the money given to the poor.” They didn’t say, ‘could have been used to expand our ministry/ buy you a donkey/ meet the day to day running costs’.
Historians tell us that at the time there was a huge remove between rich and poor, with the majority (95%) of people living on the edge of destitution, subsistence farming, living in poverty and oppression. There was a tiny, massively wealthy elite. Unless Jesus was (as much the church appears to believe) the ambassador of the middle class, which would have been totally unlike other rabbis of the time, who were itinerant and dependant upon charity. Then he must have been poor or rich, I choose to look at the evidence and conclude he was not rich. (For instance in his response to the rich young man.)
I can only find one verse in the bible where Jesus says “Blessed are the poor”, and I think the comparison between Luke 6:20 and Matthew 5:3 raises doubts about whether he was meaning that financially or not.
I am not saying that blessed are the poor means only the poor materially, it is widely held to be the ‘poor in spirit’ which in turn refers to those totally dependant upon God. Yes many poor people would fall into this category, and few rich people.
Personally I don’t think that God wants to spend his time providing for people to whom he has given the intelligence and strength to provide both for themselves and to fulfil their obligation to provide for others.
You think God is restricted by time?
And you think its necessary for you and I to strive to provide for others? Lets be clear, there is plenty of money maybe even just inside the church as it is at the moment, to feed the world. If we were to live as Jesus did, only taking for each of us what we need, and to give freely to one another as each of us has need, there would be no poverty in the world. This is a distraction, which serves to enslave most of us to the producer/consumer lifestyle. Very few people do what you suggest and earn money, taking only what they need and giving the rest away, we need more people to live with less, not more to earn more.
Rather, I prefer the example of Paul, who when it was necessary (and sometimes even when he could have claimed support didn’t) worked hard for his living so as not to be a burden to those he was ministering to.
I tend to look at Paul, who said he was able to be happy in any situation, riches or poverty, and see someone who ministered naturally within his context. He worked in the marketplace, and ministered there, modeling a different way of life. He wasn’t simply working as a way to fund his ministry – it was part of his ministry.
True generosity, said Ghandi, is not to be found in giving, but in only taking what you really need. Riches are not a blessing, the rich find it very difficult to enter the kingdom, even in Jesus time that was true, it remains so now.
Lets not forget the old Sunday school song about Peter and John who were asked for alms by the lame man: “Silver and Gold have I none, but such as I have do I give to thee…”