What Would Jesus Buy?

29 Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor.

(John 13:29 ESV)

I read this verse recently, and it got me thinking about Jesus’ spending habits. The context is that Judas has just left the scene of the last supper to betray Jesus, whose final words to him are “What you are going to do, do quickly.” (v27)

This results in a misunderstanding amongst the disciples. They falsely assume that Judas has been sent out on some kind of financial mission, but I think their suppositions reveal the typical ways in which Jesus spent money.

Feeding Friends

The disciples’ first guess was that Judas had been sent to buy food for the feast. Despite verses that indicate Jesus and his disciples lived frugally (e.g. “the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head”, “Acquire no gold nor silver nor copper for your belts, no bag for your journey, nor two tunics nor sandals nor a staff…”), he does seem to be more than happy to enjoy a good meal with good friends. Perhaps the most notable example would be his miracle to turning the water into wine at the wedding in Cana. It is clear that Jesus was no ascetic when it came to food, despite his 40 day fast in the wilderness.

Feeding the Hungry

Their second guess was that Judas had been sent to give money to the poor. According to Andreas Köstenberger, there was a tradition at this time of allowing the poor to gather in the temple precincts after midnight at Passover time. Perhaps Jesus often gave to the poor at night to put into practice his command to perform such giving in secret:

2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,

(Matt 6:2,3 ESV)

Feasting and Philanthropy

Both ways of spending money, whether on feasting or philanthropy, reveal Jesus’ desire to use the little money he did have to bless others. He feasted with not just his friends, but all sorts of people, from tax collectors to prostitutes to Pharisees, all the while seeking to befriend them and point them towards the kingdom of God. And when giving to the poor, he again studiously avoided doing it in a selfish way, simply as a means to get praise, but rather acted out of genuine selfless and sacrificial love.

Reflecting on my own spending over the Christmas period, I think I still have a long way to go before my attitude to money approaches that of Jesus. Perhaps I should start wearing a WWJB bracelet. Now there’s a money-making idea for someone!

3 thoughts on “What Would Jesus Buy?

  1. Good post Mark, so often we forget to think about imitating Jesus when it comes to our spending habits especially at Christmas. To celebrate the goodness of life with others avoids the error of those who would have us in poverty while giving to the poor avoids the error of those who fail to see the danger of consumerism.

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