The Social Standing of Jesus
There is nothing in Biblical text to indicate that Jesus was poor, although, in almost every portrayal in paintings, movies, and from the pulpit he is relegated to beggar’s status. This notion can possibly be traced to an often misread parable recorded by Matthew:
♦ Matthew 25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Unfortunately, they stop the story there and elaborate about the physical sacrifices of a hard life while ignoring the rest of the parable, which conveys the real message. This parable shows that serving your fellow man is the way to serve Jesus:
♦ Matthew 25:37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Jesus stated very clearly on many occasions that this is the most important aspect of a person’s life and the one commandment that he asked his followers to obey. He said that all the laws and the entire prophecies center on this one rule. It is not unusual that this point is passed over considering that buildings and image are the focus of the pulpit. Service to mankind is non-existent or relegated to yearly clothing drives. No apologies to those who claim to be doing more than token service. That is, unless the total focus of the church is on service to those less fortunate, they are not fulfilling the letter or spirit of the law.
There are indications that, rather than poor, Jesus actually had a high social standing normally associated with fiscal security rather than poverty. Considering his true origin, his message, and a lifetime of good works, it would stand to reason that his spiritual Father would bless him with a comfortable life. The great wedding feast he attended with his mother shows that he moved comfortably in this level.
A High in Social Standing:
♦ John 2:1 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: 2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.
Considering that Jesus converted over 60 gallons of water into fine wine, this was no small wedding. He also associated with the controlling figures in society:
♦ Luke 5:29 And Levi made him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them.
♦ Luke 5:36 And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat.
Did Jesus Have Long Hair?
The depiction of Jesus in paintings and movies is almost a direct contradiction to Bible text and historical reality. The most telling and easily recognizable aspect is the long hair. In a social sense, this would have been an abnormality. Paul, a man highly educated in Jewish laws and customs and in personal contact with the resurrected Jesus, makes it clear that this was not only unacceptable, but also actually shameful. Whether as a religious or social aspect of life, Paul, in his first letter to Corinth, states that it is a shame for a man to have long hair. Are we to assume that Paul is casting aspersions on Jesus? No, the historical reality is that it is highly unlikely that Jesus had long hair.
Not surprisingly, therefore, all portrayals of Jesus prior to the popularization of the Shroud of Turin show a Jesus with short hair and no beard. After the Shroud was associated with Jesus, all the images produced added long hair and a beard. The first documented exhibition of the Shroud was in 1357, but it was associated with Jesus prior to this. In truth, therefore, the Shroud is the first and only reason that Jesus is pictured with long hair and a beard. Rather presumptuous considering that there is no solid evidence that this is indeed the image of a dead Jesus.
Even attempts to justify the authenticity of this obscure cloth are based on shaky foundations. Many claim that Jesus had long hair and a beard because he was a participant in an extreme religious vow of isolation. This stems from a mistaken assumption that Jesus was a Nazarite. He was not, and there is no indication either in or out of the Bible that he ever was. He was, in fact, a Nazarene, a much different thing. A Nazarite was an individual who went into isolation for three years during which time, among other acts, no razor was allowed to touch his head, thus the long hair and the beard. Even if he had been a Nazarite he still would not have the long hair and a beard as the Nazarites shaved their beards and cut their hair after this period. A Nazarene is a citizen of Nazareth. Jesus was a citizen of Nazareth and, as such, he fulfilled a prophecy. Why would he not just have long hair and a beard anyway? The main reason is that he would stand out like a sore thumb. The male Jews of his day all had short hair and he would have found himself the target of much ridicule. That would be in the Bible and it is not. However, anyone who does portray Jesus as having long hair is portraying him in a shameful way. Beards were reserved for the elders, something else he was not.
It is to be noted that Jesus was a Jew, most of the people in his inner and outer circle of companions and acquaintances were Jews and Paul was a Jew. The condemnation of long hair is, therefore, a Jewish issue in the Bible. The decision whether to have long hair, or not, is an individual choice and an open issue outside of that particular tribe of Israel.
A Man of Talent and Wisdom
Jesus was a carpenter and it is claimed that there are fine houses he built still standing. Certainly he excelled in whatever profession he practiced and, no doubt, was popular and much respected by those with whom he worked and lived. There is a record of 37 of his miracles and verses that indicate this was only a small potion of the total. Did this miraculous work start suddenly or did it develop over time? We know that at age twelve he greatly impressed the doctors of the law in the temple:
♦ Luke 2:42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast…… 46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. 47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.
Here we see the first sign that this is no ordinary person and that his intelligence and reputation was on an upward spiral:
♦ Luke 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.
It would not be unrealistic to say that Jesus was probably widely known prior to his ministry and a highly motivated, hard working, and very dynamic person. Should we expect less from a human god?
· The Supernatural Actions Of A Human God
· Cleansing A Leper – Matt.8:2 * Mark 1:40 * Luke 5:12
· Healing The Centurion’s Servant – Matt. 8:5 – 13 * Luke 7:1
· Healing Of Peter’s Mother-In-Law – Matt. 8:14 – 15 * Mark 1:30 * Luke 4:38
· Healing The Sick At Evening – Matt. 8:16 * Mark 1:32 * Luke 4:40
· Stilling The Storm – Matt. 8:23 – 27 * Mark 4:35 * Luke 8:22
· Devils Into A Herd Of Swine – Matt. 8:28 – 34 * Mark 5:1 * Luke 8:26
· Healing The Paralytic – Matt. 9:1 – 8 * Mark 2:3 * Luke 5:18
· Raising A Ruler’s Daughter From The Dead – Matt. 9:18, 23 * Mark 2:3 * Luke 8:40, 49
· Healing The Hemorrhaging Woman – Matt. 9:20 – 22 * Mark 5:25 Luke 8:43
· Healing The Two Blind Men – Matt. 9:27 – 31
· Healing A Possessed, Dumb Man – Matt. 9:32 – 34
· Healing A Man’s Withered Hand – Matt.12:9 – 21 * Mark 3:1 * Luke 6:6
· Possessed, Blind, And Dumb – Matt. 12:22 – 30 * Luke 11:14
· Feeding The Five Thousand – Matt.14:13 – 21 * Mark 6:30 35 – 44 * Luke 9:10, 12 – 17 * John 6:10 – 15
· Walking On The Sea – Matt.14:22 – 33 * Mark 6:48 * Luke 6:19
· Healing The Canaanite Daughter – Matt.15:21 – 28 * Mark 7:24
· Feeding The Four Thousand – Matt. 15:29 – 38 * Mark 8:1
· Healing Of A Child With A Demon – Matt.17:14 – 20 * Mark 9:17 * Luke 9:38
· Taxes In The Mouth Of A Fish – Matt. 17:24 – 27
· Healing Two Blind Men By The Way Side – Matt. 20:29 – 34 * Mark 10:46 * Luke 8:35
· Withering The Fig Tree – Matt. 21:18 – 22 * Mark 11:12
· Casting Out An Unclean Spirit – Mark 1:21 – 28 * Luke 4:33
· Healing A Deaf And Dumb Man – Mark 7:31 – 37
· Healing The Blind Man At Bethsaida – Mark 8:22 – 26
· Escape From The Crowd At Nazareth – Luke 4:14 – 30
· Miraculous Catching Of Fishes – Luke 5:1 – 11
· The Widow Of Nain – Luke 7:11 – 17
· Healing The Infirm, Bowed Woman – Luke 13:10 – 17
· Healing The Man With The Dropsy – Luke 14:1 – 6
· Cleansing The Ten Lepers – Luke 17:11 – 19
· Restoring The Servants Ear – Luke 22:47 – 53
· Turning Water Into Wine – John 2:1 – 11
· Healing The Nobleman’s Son – John 4:46 – 54
· Healing The Infirm Man At The Pool Of Bethesda – John 5:1 – 18
· Healing The Man Blind From Birth – John 9:1 – 37
· The Raising Of Lazarus From The Dead – John 11:1 – 47
· The Great Draught Of Fishes – John 21:1 – 14