Kong Hee and Judas


[at time 4:34 - Point 5 - Jesus had a treasurer]

Pastor Kong Hee of City Harvest Church has claimed that Jesus was rich demonstrated by the actions of His treasurer/book keeper Judas, hence, we as Christians should be rich as well.

 Wealth plays an important part in religion. It is said that the Catholic Church once owned 2/3 of Europe. When Rome became "Christian", the supremacy of Rome has meant the supremacy, power, and wealth for the Christian faith. Hence, the secular, and world view have always been intricately linked with the Christian faith.

The claim that Jesus was rich simply because He had a book keeper/accountant may be true. However, even a small organization/group which involve money transactions would need an assigned person who managed, control and be responsible for the funds. The funds may not be very large. Having a accountant/treasurer may not mean much for even in the Cell Group we may have a treasurer to manage the CG funds collected for birthday parties and outings.

The claim that Judas could steal from the fund meant that it was a large fund is also far fetched. We don't know what Judas did with the money stolen but theft alone doesn't mean that it was worth stealing. For example, we often see convictions for stealing groceries even though it's not worth it.

There are strong evidence that the fund that the "Jesus People" had kept was only for the daily running of the group and was not significant or "rich" in the sense of the mega churches with hundreds of millions to spare:-

  • They did not have money to feed 5,000 men (not counting women and children) for the evangelistic outreach. If a meal had cost $10 each, the lunch for the mega outreach would have cost SGD 50,000. If the fund had millions they would not have mind. Yet, it needed a miracle to feed the 5,000.

  • The disciples were worried about paying taxes. The tax was one denarii or US 20/person. If the "Jesus people" had 1,000 followers, this would be USD 20K. If they had millions, the taxes of 20K would be very little to worry about.

  • Judas was tempted to betray Jesus for 30 silver coins (120 drachmas) or about 4 months salary. Based on an average salary of SGD 2,500/month, the sum is about SGD 10,000. If Judas had been shipponing of millions from the fund to buy his own house,   the sum of SGD 10k to betray Jesus was not attractive. If Jesus was a "cash cow", Judas would have continued to protect Jesus.

Jesus had allowed Judas to take from the fund, because the money didn't belong to Jesus. Jesus was not rich in the sense of material wealth. He did not own the money, it belongs to the disciples as a whole. It was for communal use and not His own bank account. How can Jesus be rich when He literally dont own any money!

The money didn't belong to jesus for His own personal use and similarly the church funds does not belong to the Senior Pastor to be used as his own bank account.

The "Jesus people" was not a registered charity, yet they had integrity and their lifestyles consistent with the people that they were serving who were very poor. They lived very simply and had enough to survive but not live in 5 star hotels in Jerusalem nor eat with royalty.

Just as Judas could steal from the common bank account, there is so much grace, mercy and love in Jesus that He wouldn't say much if a senior pastor had taken from the account. The focus is not on the money but our heart and passion for God. It is the call to make a difference to extend the Kingdom of God to a perishing generation.

The "Jesus People" was never a charity whose funds were not subjected to taxes because they had paid taxes.

If it was a charity,  it is no more a bank account for the pastors however juicy the lamb chops may be for the sheperd to eat the sheep. In addition, the charity rules imply strict restrictions on its use with no crossover to businesses.

Nevertheless, It is true that Jesus never said He was poor.

Jesus was very rich in the sense that He could call upon unlimited tax free funds. For example, the money for the taxes came miraculously. The disciples had enough to live on but it was not much. The money came in whenever there was a need. They always had sufficient. There was no lack.

As Christians we are rich not because we have material wealth necessarily but we have a Father in heaven who is rich and who owns everything. It is having enough to live on, and to live simply and not in extravagant lifestyles. There were no security guards to protect the funds that Jesus had, because Judas alone could carry.

Jesus called us to pray for our daily bread, for our daily subsistence to survive. For if we store up manna for tommorow, it would rot. Jesus did not mind Judas stealing because the money would be "top up" daily if required. Our focus is often on material wealth, when it should be on the source, the giver. Our focus should be on Jesus Christ.

We are called to pray for our needs, to live without lack not in strive or suffering to find our next meal but by God's grace and mercy.

We are called to have no lack in all that we do because we have a rich Father in heaven.


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