Jesus’ Ministry to the Rich and Powerful

This might be an unusual title for an article.  After all, we often think of Jesus reaching out to “the least of these”, and indeed He did.  He also expected His followers to do the same.

The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
Matthew 25:40 NASB

https://bible.com/bible/100/mat.25.40.NASB

In fact, reading through the Bible, God makes many provisions for those who need more help than others.  These range from the opportunity for the poor to pick up grain in others’ fields under the Mosaic Law, (see Leviticus 19:9-10), to food provided to widows in the early church (see Acts 6:1-4).

The reason that I bring this up is because some of us (and also other people that we know) may not feel like we fit into this “least of these” category.  Pride can cause us to think this, but sometimes followers of Jesus do have a good income, and can live comfortably.  They don’t have to worry about their next meal, or where to sleep at night.

For instance, the median income of a person in the United States is greater than 93% of the world’s population (at least, the population that was measured by a Pew Research study1).  While I understand that the cost of living is different by region, and the principles of income inequality are challenging ones that we must wrestle with, the fact is that the vast majority of people in my country (even most of those below the median) are better off than billions of others in the world.

Verses like the one above might cause some to wonder if Jesus cares about people who do have money or power.  In fact, having too much wealth can still make it difficult to enter His kingdom:

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
Mark 10:25 NASB

https://bible.com/bible/100/mrk.10.25.NASB

However, an inspection of the Gospels (the first four books of the New Testament division of the Bible, summarizing Jesus’ ministry on earth from 4 different points of view), shows that He also delivered important messages to those who had some authority, wealth, and power in society.

Consider these people who spent time with Jesus:

  • Jesus condemned the behavior of some Pharisees and other religious leaders (who were well respected among the people), but He also spent time answering questions for Nicodemus (see John 3:1-21).
  • Tax collectors were typically considered to be rich (albeit not popular).  Jesus called Matthew to be His disciple (see Mark 2:14), and ate with Zacchaeus (see Luke 19:1-10).
  • Roman centurions were militarily powerful representatives of the Roman Empire.  Jesus healed a member of one centurion’s household (see Matthew 8:5-13), and a centurion named Cornelius was important in the introduction of the Gospel to the Gentiles (see Acts 10:1-33).
  • Jesus also healed a nobleman’s son (see John 4:46-54).

I personally find it encouraging that Jesus loved everyone.  He took the time to minister to those in need, and to provide for the sick and the hungry.  We would do well to emulate Him in these behaviors, sharing what we have: whether money, skills, time, or prayers for God to intervene on others’ behalf.

However, Jesus also took time to minister to those who were healthy, wealthy, and influential.  Not all of them listened (and, I suspect, not all of the destitute people in Israel believed Jesus’ teaching, either), but some did, and demonstrated their commitment to Him.

The rich and poor have this in common:
The Lord made them both.
Proverbs 22:2 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/pro.22.2.NLT

Whether we are rich or poor (both in our own locale, and in comparison to the rest of the world), may we be thankful to Jesus for His gift of salvation, and for His love that He shared.  And, may we be willing to share Jesus’ love with others, regardless of their income or influence.

 

 

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