Why was Jesus poor?

Jesus, Son of the living God, should have arrived on earth in glory and Jesus not esteemedsplendour. Yet He was born in a manger. Though He received gifts of gold, incense and myrrh,1 His parents could only offer the poor man’s sacrifice, ‘a pair of doves or two young pigeons’ when Jesus was presented to the Lord.No mention is made of the customary lamb.3

He joined His father, Joseph, in his profession as a carpenter, again with no indication that He was a wealthy entrepreneur. There is no hint that He preferred the company of the high and mighty. On the contrary, when He was brought before Herod for His trial, we read, ‘When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see Him. From what he had heard about Him, he hoped to see Him perform some miracle.’ 4 Herod probably did not see Jesus when He performed miracles, because Jesus was not counted among the high and mighty and Herod did not associate with the lowly.

Jesus was poor for a reason. He wanted to sift out those who mix with the wealthy for possible benefits. We have them in families, among friends, at work, or have heard about them. They don’t consort with ordinary people; they like to be seen among the wealthy and influential, moving up the social and economic ladder, and not consorting with ‘losers.’

That explains why Jesus was not counted among the rich.  If He was very rich, people might have followed Him for other reasons than what Jesus came for. They might have tried to be in His favour, or impress Him with their own riches. Jesus came to save the lost. Wealth would have obscured it and put off those who specifically needed God’s mercy. One thing is very clear, if you want to be counted as somebody, don’t look to the earthly Jesus for fame or wealth.

Isaiah 53:2-3 is descriptive, ‘He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him…. Like one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.’  These verses accurately convey the message: while on earth, Jesus wasn’t a Somebody, or a Mister Wonderful.

What do we learn from that?

Appearances can mislead. At the right hand of the Father, Jesus is very high, mighty, wealthy and exalted. Not only that, He is busy preparing a wonderful place of extreme beauty and gorgeous houses for those who might be like He was on earth: ordinary, run of the mill kind of people, but with a strong love for the Lord, and confidence in His promises. He was poor while He was on earth, but He will cause billions of people who love and trust Him to become billionaires for all eternity. Glory to the King!


  1. Matthew 2:11
  2. Luke 2:24
  3. Leviticus 12:6, 8
  4. Luke 23:8
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