Heroes of the Bible

Beware the Power of Money

The Word of the Father, of Jesus, and of the Spirit impels us to follow the Way of Jesus that challenges and overcomes the Power of Money. By following the Way of Jesus, our words and actions will crush the Power of Money. How? By sharing in the sufferings, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus as symbolized by baptism. (Romans 6:2-8; Galatians 5:24-25; 2 Corinthians 1:3-7).

Beware the Power of Money.

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned us, “You cannot serve both God and money”. (Matthew 6:24).

When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness to seek material prosperity by turning stones into bread, he refused. He said, “It is written [in the Bible], ‘[People] shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4; see my blog “Do Not Live on ‘Bread’ Alone”).

Money has the power to tempt us.

Money not only tempts us. Money has the power to crush us, if our words and actions challenge the Power of Money.

Jesus suffered from this Power of Money.

Jesus lived on every word that comes from the mouth of God, fulfilling the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 5:17).

This meant warning us about the deceitfulness of wealth—the Power of Money. The deceitfulness of wealth chokes the words that come from the mouth of God, preventing us from producing good fruit so that we enjoy life to the full. (John 10:10).

What is this good fruit that empowers us to enjoy life to the full? It’s not a fancy car. It’s not a spectacular house. It’s not a gigantic stock portfolio. (Luke 12:13-21).

No! This good fruit that empowers us to enjoy life to the full is the fruit of the Spirit. She speaks every word that comes from the mouth of the Father and of Jesus. (John 14:23-27). Living on every word that comes from the mouth of the Father, of Jesus, and of the Spirit produces a harvest full of “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23; Matthew 13:23).

The Word of the Father, of Jesus, and of the Spirit impels us to follow the Way of Jesus that challenges and overcomes the Power of Money.

The most dramatic way that Jesus challenged the Power of Money was when he “cleansed the Temple” by driving out the money lenders and the merchants.

This happened at least twice—early in his public ministry and a few days before the Power of Money joined with the Power of Religion and the Power of Authority to torture and crucify Jesus. (John 2:13-17; Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46).

The Gospel of Mark makes clear that the Power of Money led to the decision to torture and crucify Jesus.

“Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts.” (Mark 11:15-16).

As Jesus taught in the temple courts, he said, “Is it not written [in the Bible]: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a ‘den of robbers.’” (Mark 11:14, quoting Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11).

Jesus was furious that the Power of Money had conquered the Temple itself. No wonder Jesus risked torture and crucifixion to overcome the Power of Money through both his actions and his teachings.

And no wonder that the Power of Money “began looking for a way to kill [Jesus], for they feared him” (Mark 11:18).

The Power of Money found a willing conspirator in Judas Iscariot.

Judas “was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.” (John 12:6).

For three years, Judas tried to serve both Jesus and money. He followed Jesus as they traveled around Israel. He heard all the wonderful teachings of Jesus. He saw all the compassionate miracles of Jesus.

But in the end, Judas became an example of what Jesus had warned about in his Sermon on the Mount:

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24).

Judas loved money and hated Jesus. Judas was devoted to money and despised Jesus.

Judas heard that the rich religious rulers in Jerusalem were looking for a way to arrest Jesus quietly during the Passover Festival so there wouldn’t be a riot. (Matthew 26:3-5). Judas went to them and asked for a bribe of 30 pieces of silver. When they agreed, “Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.” (Matthew 26:14-16).

A few days later, the opportunity came. After dark on Passover, Judas led “a large crowd armed with swords and clubs” to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemene. In the darkness and confusion, Judas made sure the crowd knew which person they needed to arrest. Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss. (Matthew 26:46-50).

The Power of Money crushed Judas. When he saw Jesus condemned, Judas was filled with remorse. He returned the 30 silver coins to the temple. “Then he went away and hanged himself.” (Matthew 27:1-10).

The Power of Money crushed Jesus, too. He was mocked, tortured and crucified.

Nevertheless, on Easter Sunday morning, Jesus crushed the Power of Money. God resurrected him, giving Jesus “[a]ll authority in heaven and on earth”. (Matthew 28:18).

By following the Way of Jesus, our words and actions will crush the Power of Money.

How? By sharing in the sufferings, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus as symbolized by baptism. (Romans 6:2-8; Galatians 5:24-25; 2 Corinthians 1:3-7).

By going fully under the water to be baptized, we symbolically confirm our decision to suffer and die with Jesus, crucifying our former ways of sinful living. By rising from the water, God symbolically resurrects our life so that we may have eternal life—a life  that we enjoy in this life and in the life to come. (John 10:10; Romans 6:2-8).

By crucifying the Power of Money in our life, we will truly enjoy our life now and in the life to come!

By crucifying the Power of Money in our civilization, we will build a civilization that is good—that is very good!

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To read more about the Power of Money, please read my blogs “Judas Iscariot Betrays Jesus: The Love of Money”, “Jezebel and Ahab: Greed, Lies and Violence”, “Jesus Climbs the Temple Mount”, “Overcoming the Deceitfulness of Wealth”, and “Do Not Live on ‘Bread’ Alone”.

To read more about the Power of Money, please read the chapter “Ahab Takes Naboth’s Vineyard” in my book Healing the Promised Land, at pages 221-233, and the chapters “Jesus Tells the Rich, Young Ruler How To Follow Him”, “The Rich Fool”, “Jesus Drives the Merchants Out of the Temple”, and “Judas Betrays Jesus For Thirty Silver Coins” in my book Hoping in the LORD, at pages 183-186, 195-198, 223-227, and 235-238.

To read about how to build a civilization that is good—that is very good, please read my blog “How Do We Build a Civilization That Is Good—That Is Very Good?” and the related chapter “Nimrod’s Wars and Babel’s Arrogant Selfishness” in my book The Promised Land, at pages 21-24.