Local News: First Presbyterian Church of Jackson is getting ready to host a Fall Inquirers Class beginning Sunday, September 1, at 9:40 a.m. in Room M133. The class, which is for members and visitors wanting to know more about First Pres., its ministry, and the Presbyterian Church in America, will run through the fall Sunday school quarter. Anyone wanting to sign up is asked to contact Shannon Craft at 601-326-9243 or email@example.com.
A short sentence found in John's gospel that is often overlooked comes in John 13:28-29. After Judas receives his morsel of bread from Jesus, the Lord says to him, "What you are about to do, do quickly." John adds this interesting detail:
"Now no man at the table knew why he said this to him. For some thought, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus said to him, "Buy what things we need for the feast," or that he should give something to the poor."
Contrary to everything the popular prosperity gospel preachers would have listeners think, Jesus was not a rich man. Jesus' family wasn't rich. On the day of his circumcision, Mary and Joseph offer what was the standard sacrifice for low income families, a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons. When Jesus is asked his question about paying taxes to Caesar, he doesn't even have a coin with him, but asks for someone to show him one.
When Jesus is asked about paying the temple tax, Jesus has Peter go fishing, where God miraculously provides the coin inside of a fish's mouth. When a potential disciple approaches Jesus in Luke 9 about following him, Jesus tells him that he basically is a wanderer—he has no place that he calls "home." We've no reason to believe that many of his disciples were wealthy either. As fishermen, Peter, James, and John would've been "working class" people, not poverty stricken, but not overly affluent either. In Acts 3, when a beggar asks Peter and John for a donation, they say truthfully to him, "Silver and gold we do not have." The only disciple that would've had a lucrative career was Levi, or Matthew, the tax collector.
But notice that when Judas leaves to go conspire with the Jewish authorities about betraying Jesus, one of the first assumptions in the disciples' minds is that he's gone out to give something to the poor. The only reason why this would've been one of their first assumptions would be if donating funds to the poor out of the money box was somewhat of a regular custom that Jesus and his disciples practiced. If you think about this, it's really remarkable. Though Jesus and his disciples likely didn't have an overabundance in the money box, they regularly shared what they had with the poor.
On the natural level, when we ourselves don't have much, we are tempted to hoard what little we do have for a "rainy day." But this isn't what Jesus did—he freely gave away what little he had. It's impossible to read the Scripture, especially the book of Proverbs, without being confronted with the fact that God is intensely concerned about the poor. Solomon says, "He who lends to the poor lends to the Lord." He says that to attack the poor is like attacking God himself. Proverbs 29:7 says, "The righteous care about justice for the poor. The wicked aren’t concerned about knowledge."
He constantly portrays the righteous man as someone who shares with the poor, while the wicked man oppresses the poor. If God really did take on human flesh and walk among us, we should expect him to be someone who's intensely concerned with the poor. And that is exactly what we do see in the gospels. Jesus told his disciples to be men who gave freely to anyone who asked them to, and to do so without worrying about being repaid. Jesus could command them to live this way because he himself lived this way.
Remember when John the Baptist sent messengers to Jesus to ask him if he really was Messiah? One of the last things Jesus says to them, by way of validating his role as Messiah is this: "Good news is preached to the poor."