Wait, what ….. Easter and church Finances …. what do they have in common??
Isn’t that sacrilegious to talk about finances when Easter is about the amazing gift given to us because of the incredibly painful, sacrificial death and amazing resurrection of the Son???
At Benkorp, our passion is to Raise the Standard of Financial Management of Christian Organisations for HIS glory. God has given me some insight into the relationship between Easter and Church Finances!
The Last Supper
When referring to Easter I include the days leading to Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross and particularly the last meal He shared with his friends and disciples commonly named The Last Supper.
While sharing this meal Jesus knew that His time on earth was coming to an end. He knew that very soon He would be arrested, put on trial, lied about, and killed on a cross. Jesus would allow all these things to happen because He came to earth to be the perfect sacrifice to take away the sins of the world.
Sitting at the table, with Jesus, at this last meal was Judas, one of the twelve disciples, the keeper of the money, the treasurer.
Judas had betrayed Jesus. He had already received 30 silver coins to reveal Jesus’ location which effectively sentenced Jesus to death.
Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him. (Matthew 26:14-15)
Easter and money are certainly linked!
“Thirty pieces of silver” is mentioned twice before in the Bible:
- In the book of Zechariah, the prophet is paid the same amount for his daily wage as a shepherd – Zechariah 11:12-14, and
- In the book of Exodus “thirty pieces of silver” was the price paid to the owner of a slave whom you had killed. (Exodus 21:32)
Some sources say that 30 pieces of silver has the equivalent value of 5 weeks of average wages.
Just over a month’s wage was the price of Jesus’ life!!
Horrible to think of this!
How did this happen?
Judas was the keeper of the money bag. Jesus and the disciples left their livelihoods to travel the countryside and minister during Jesus’ brief three-year ministry. Money to support this ministry came from donations of supporters, often women (Luke 8:31). Possibly the disciples contributed some money from their resources as well.
We don’t know how or when Judas came to be the keeper of the money. We do know, however, that 6 days before the Passover, when Jesus was anointed by Mary at Bethany it was clear that Judas was already a thief “…he used to help himself to what was put into the money bag.” (John 12:1-6)
Why was this allowed to happen? Was there no regular accountability or reporting procedure in place? Did Jesus appoint a thief as the treasurer?
We know that the disciples were ordinary men with the usual foibles of people. Many were prideful – they wanted to be first, to be next to Jesus and …. even one of Jesus’s chosen twelve had serious issues with money.
Using the words of Gandalf in one of the Lord of the Rings movies “How did it come to this?” My answer is, step by step.
We know that the disciples were getting disgruntled. They didn’t understand why Jesus was talking about leaving them. For some, Jesus did not do what they hoped he would do. For Judas he had had enough. It seemed that the interaction between Jesus and Judas over Mary’s use of the expensive perfume was the “last straw” for Judas. He was now ready to take his sin of theft one huge giant leap forward and use the money in the money bag for Jesus’s ultimate betrayal!
Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, ….3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. …4 But . . . Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
7 Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you,[c] but you will not always have me.” John 12:1-8
14 Then . . . . Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. (Matthew 26:15-16)
It is amazing that such cheating and financial embezzlement was possible with those people who were actually travelling in person with Jesus. So, it should be no surprise that similar issues can be possible that those people entrusted with church finances today. There is always the potential to steal or misdirect the church’s money. We are all sinful and fall short of the Glory of God Rom 3:23. We each have our weaknesses and areas in our lives and we struggle with temptation like others. Therefore, if we personally and corporately want to ensure that checks and balances, policies and procedures are in place to provide accountability and reduce the risks of misappropriation.
The Effect of Failure of financial management of church finances
When we are dealing with the finances of an organisation, such as the church, the ramifications are great. Many more people can be affected by the failure of people in leadership than the failure of individuals with less responsibilities.
Failure in effective financial management and control of church finances will affect the ability of the church to fulfil its mandate because money is diverted away from the areas already prioritised as most needed.
It can also seriously affect the reputation of the church. As soon as wrong dealings with the finances of an organisation becomes public people immediately withhold finances. Therefore, there is not only a diversion of money from the churches real purpose but a serious restriction of funds and an incredible and sometimes unrecoverable blow to the reputation of the church.
Together these can have serious affects on the church going forward with her ministry and mission.
Easter and Church Finances will follow soon in Part 2
Please contact us if you would like to discuss the financial management of your church at [email protected] or 1300 138 627
© Benkorp Management Services Pty Ltd 2018