Jesus Temptation: Materialism

Mark 12:38  And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces,

Now you might think this is a stretch but think about this for just a minute.  If Jesus had not at some point been “tempted” with at least comparing what He had against those around Him who had more, then why would He point out this little woman in the synagogue?  Hmmmmm?  He knew the law of Moses:  “Thou shalt not covet……”  (Exodus 20:17)

Jesus was as we say in the south, “dirt poor.”  Carpenter’s eked out a living fixing household items for lumber was scarce.  He supported His mother and siblings from manual labor.  His clothes were very modest.  His food consisted of very little meat.  His sacrifices at the temple consisted of the sacrifices of the poor.  (Leviticus 12:8)

Can you imagine with me how Jesus felt leaving His home in Heaven with all its riches and coming to earth and living a subsistent existence and NOT being tempted to WANT to offer His Father the BEST sacrifice of a lamb rather than the sacrifice of two common pigeons?

Now as He stands in the synagogue with His disciples, He uses a widow’s sacrifice as an example of what is REALLY important.  It is NOT the size or amount of the gift it is the intent with which it is given:  Not for display for man to see and ooh and ahh over but a humble gift given with desire for the LORD only to see and a heart trusting God for tomorrow’s needs.

Here in the South, it is still a tradition to dress our young sons (much to their fathers distress) and daughters in elaborate smocked and French hand sewn garments especially for “religious” events like Easter, baby dedication, weddings, and baptism.  These are works of art but they come at a great cost even if you make them yourself (ask me how I know).  All too often these special days when Christ should be the focus, it is what the child is wearing that is the focus!  Heaven forbid the child be served red Kool-Aid on those days.  Not to mention the child whose parents are doing well to have jeans with no holes and a shirt without a stain  or a simple dress and a pair of shoes, how all this pomp and circumstance must make them feel.  Does it cause a child to look with envy and jealousy at another child because they are getting all the attention based on what they are wearing?  Do they feel “less than?”  I have seen the look in their mother’s eyes and the silent sorrow slide down their cheek.

When Jesus was young, if He had sandals He most likely felt blessed.  There were no “store bought” clothes.  His Mother probably made His coat by the arduous task of spinning the yarn, weaving the fabric, then sewing and later mending each tear.  Tradition says she wove His robe without seams, making it so valuable  the soldiers refused to tear it because of its quality and threw dice to secure.  (Matthew 19:13)  Based on Mark’s gospel, the longer the robe the more likely it was expensive.  I can see this.  The longer the robe the more time and effort it required to construct.

No matter where we are in life we can ALWAYS find someone with more wealth than we may have if you judge wealth based on what you can see.  God looks at the condition of our heart to determine how rich we are (I Samuel 16:7) and admonishes us to do the same.

Materialism is a huge temptation. The truth is the poorest among us in America is rich by world standards and it is still not “enough.”   “More than a billion people around the world now are living on less than $1 per day.”  Jesus saw the poor because He was poor.  Those who are rich often see only those who are richer than they.   He saw a widow giving ALL she had and He saw her heart was trusting God to provide her NEEDS.    This temptation was not on my original list but it sure should have been.  One of our faithful readers and I were discussing this as a possible study series and she asked the question “was Jesus tempted with materialism.”  I said, “I don’t know but based on some of His stories I would think maybe so.”  As I began to search out this question, I saw not a story but a living illustration in a woman who was among the poorest of the poor and the honor Jesus gave her.  The extravagance of her gift touched His heart for a reason.  He understood the temptation to hold on to the little she had.  Instead, she trusted God for taking care of her as He does the lilies.

Matthew 6:25-34 Therefore I say unto you, Be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than the food, and the body than the raiment? 26 Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye of much more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit unto the measure of his life? 28 And why are ye anxious concerning raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God doth so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31 Be not therefore anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 For after all these things do the Gentiles seek; for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

So, my dear friend, thank you for asking!  We have searched out yet another temptation our Lord endured without sin!  (Hebrew 4:15)
Treading in truth,

To all out there who create these works of art for your children, I know they are gifts from your heart.  I too have made them.  These words were not meant to condemn anyone only to convict us to be ever mindful of the feelings of those around us.  I was so very convicted by the Spirit.  Thank you Kalee (the officer and the gentleman’s niece) for sharing your kids and your mom’s artistry.

Yvonne Jones



To all out there who create these works of art for your children, I know they are gifts from your heart.  I too have made them.  These words were not meant to condemn anyone only to convict us to be ever mindful of the feelings of those around us.  I was so very convicted by the Spirit.  Thank you Kalee (the officer and the gentleman’s niece) for sharing your kids and your mom’s artistry.

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About Yvonne Jones

I am at heart, a LIFEguard: "big" sister, mama, grandmother, aunt, friend, swimming coach, lifeguard trainer, and registered nurse. I am in the business of alleviating fear through education and lots of hand holding. As a swimming instructor, I have taught people of all ages to overcome fear of the water and I marvel as fear gives way to fearlessness, as panic turns to pure joy, as tears dissolve into giggles of glee, and pennies retrieved from the bottom of the abyss become trophies. As a nurse, I have been privileged to walk up to Heaven's gate as patients and family are welcomed home, witnessed the miracle of birth, helped mend broken hearts, and cared for the elderly as they wait.Scriptures number one admonition is "fear not." Question is HOW??? The Word becomes our swimming instructor and can help us learn to "tread water til Jesus comes." Something my students often thought I was going to make them do!So welcome to my pool! Jump in the cool water. Let it refresh your soul and feel the unseen hands of the Master Lifeguard lift you up and out of the deep water. Who knows, you just might even walk on water!

One thought on “Jesus Temptation: Materialism

  1. Beth Brown

    Just read the awesome post . Thank you so much for spending the time to answer my question. Still working on materialism , but thankful He understands me and my battle.
    Bless you dear friend and teacher!


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