Jesus and His family were poor. In the commentary on Luke 2:21-24, I point out how Joseph and Mary make the redemption offering for poor people. The same was true when Mary went to offer the purification offering for herself (Side note: though poor, she still sacrificed and obeyed God. Being poor was not an excuse for disobedience.)
But why does it matter if Jesus was poor or rich?
In my study today on Luke 4:18 (not yet posted), I looked into how the first mission task of Jesus was “to preach the gospel to the poor.” It should go without saying (but sadly it doesn’t) that “the poor” were poor people; not rich people who were “spiritually poor” (as often preached in many churches.) The word used there refers primarily to beggars.
It is important to recognize that Jesus was physically poor (cf. 2 Cor 8:9), because this means that when He “proclaimed the gospel” to the poor, He was ministering among His own people. He was not some rich person proclaiming spiritual platitudes to “lift the hearts of the poor.” Poor people don’t need their hearts lifted as much as they need their bellies filled.
Jesus ministered among people He could identify with.
I don’t think the point for us is that we all need to become poor. All of us, I’m sure, could be more generous then we are to help meet the needs of others, but that is not the proper trajectory for this idea of Jesus being poor. Instead, the point is that for ministry effectiveness, it helps to minister among those we can identify with. For example, a sports fanatic shouldn’t try to minister to bookworms, and vice versa.
So what are your experiences? Where have you had trials and hardships in life? Are there other people around you who have experienced the same thing? Maybe God wants you to minister to them.
If you have some ministry ideas, post them below in the comments.