He is the Lord of the poor and lowly and also the down and out. There is no doubt that this is a theme of Yeshua’s life and especially in Luke. Aside from the obvious one (“blessed are the poor,” Luke 6:20), there are plenty of others. I rather like this one: “Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you’” (Luke 10:9).
But a comment in Markus Bockmuehl’s This Jesus: Martyr, Lord, Messiah caused me to go searching. He says, “One should resist the cliche that Jesus kept company only with the poor” (83). So I went searching to find among those who knew and loved him, those whom he knew and loved, some who were high and mighty.
Yeshua found monetary support among several well-to-do women. It seems that some of these were eyewitnesses whose testimony about Yeshua was known to the community after Yeshua. Among these is a woman whose husband was a steward in Herod Antipas’ household, a woman mentioned by name only once, Joanna (Luke 8:3). In the same list is a woman named Susanna, who must be well-to-do since she also provided support for Yeshua and the disciples. It is interesting that these are mentioned in Luke, the very gospel that emphasizes the poor and lowly.
And then there is Zacchaeus, who is an architelones, a chief tax collector, which means a very wealthy one (Luke 19:2).
Perhaps most famous of the high and mighty disciples of Yeshua is Joseph of Arimathea. But he wasn’t a disciple, some will object. I read not too long ago in some historical Jesus book that it is highly unlikely Joseph was a disciple. Of course, Matthew and John would both disagree: Joseph, who also was a disciple . . . Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Yeshua, but secretly (Matt 27:57; John 19:38).
And, yes, even Nicodemus. See John 7:50-52 and 19:39.
There was a certain centurion, a soldier of some power and influence, especially in a remote posting like Syria (as the Romans knew the region), who said, Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed (Matt 8:8; Luke 7:6). This is not the same centurion who, at the crucifixion, remarked in amazement that Yeshua was the Son of God (Mark 15:39).
Don’t forget also the woman with the issue of blood (as the King James has immortalized her in Mark 5:25). She had spent all her money on doctors who did not help her. So you might say she was not wealthy. But the point is, she was wealthy until she became destitute through her disability, and this well-to-do woman who lost everything found it again in Yeshua.
And we might mention Jairus in Mark 5:22, the leader of a synagogue, perhaps the one in Capernaum or a nearby town. The fact that he is a named character suggests that, after the resurrection, he too was a disciple, one who gave eyewitness testimony to the deeds of Yeshua.
There certainly may be more. The one who said, “Woe to you that are rich” (Luke 6:24), and “sell your possessions and give alms” (Luke 12:33), did not shun the rich or powerful. Nor should we take his words on this matter as absolute law. The teacher from Galilee had a way of speaking hyperbole that we recognize again and again.
Good thing. I’d guess that 100% of the people reading this are rich by history’s standards (if you don’t go hungry, if you can always afford at least some cheap bread or rice even in hard times, you are rich).