Jesus never game money to the poor. Of course, he recommended it, but not as a solution to poverty.
A rich man wanted to have a great place in the Kingdom and Jesus said, “Liquidate everything, give it all to the poor, and follow me as my disciple.” Giving it all to the poor would have been the most honest way to dispose of his assets so he would be free to follow Jesus.
When Judas wanted to sell perfume poured out on Jesus’s feet and give the money to the poor, it was actually so he could embezzle some of the money for himself. Jesus’s rebuttal to Judas’ “greedy charity” was that poverty would never be eliminated.
Jesus that whatever we do to the poor we also do to him, which will come back to us for reward or punishment at the Great Judgment. In this, Jesus describes clothing, food, and water, not dolling out great sums of money to be spent on anything.
In Moses’s Law, God tells Israel’s farmers to leave the corners of their fields unharvested and to not comb over the fields a second time—but to leave this extra for the widow, the fatherless children, and the foreigner. This was God’s plan for social justice, to be a little sloppy, to be charitable with the poor, to return a cloak left for deposit by the end of the day, to pay the poor and foreigners by the end of every day, and to never twist laws to make them complex and unfair for the poor or the foreigners. If Israel would obey this, there would be no poor among them.
Jesus’s compassion campaign is ingenious! It provides a social structure where everyone works and no one slips through the cracks. His plan was strategized in his wisdom as a merchant, administrator, judge, and king.
When Jesus healed people it was from compassion. After Jesus’s left, his disciples didn’t give money to the poor—they gave them much more: healing.
Even when religious leaders condemned healing on the Sabbath, Jesus didn’t care. Miracles demonstrate some power, but Jesus healed people because healing was part of his great campaign of compassion.
Exodus 22:25-27, Deuteronomy 10:18-19; 15:1-6; 24:14-22, Matthew 10:42; 25:31-46, Mark 9:41, John 12:1-6, Acts 3:1-10