In first century Judaism era, the RICH were the Jewish high-priestly families who oppressed the lower clergy, landowners who abused the tenants and hired laborers, the merchants who controlled the economy, and those who aligned with the political authorities with much economic privileges. The POOR were small landowners whose livelihood depended on the small harvest, tenant farmers, hired laborers, fishermen, carpenters, slaves and beggars. The poor were further oppressed by various tithes and exorbitant taxes. We could classify the poor then as those who were economic poor and had low and insignificant social status.
Our Lord’s manifesto was to share the gospel to the poor, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. Luke 4:18-19.
We can easily see why the gospel was Good News to the poor then. Judaism preached salvation through works of the law in which the poor were so oppressed by the numerous religious laws, while the gospel preached salvation by faith alone in Christ Jesus. All, rich and poor, would be brothers in the Kingdom of God and should take care of one another. There was no longer lowly or insignificant social status but the most prestigious and precious status of the sons and daughters of God the Almighty.
But to the rich then, it was not exactly Good News. They would have to deny themselves and give up the hold of possessions. Luke 14:26,27,33. Though it was difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of God, it was not impossible. Mark 10:25, 27. The deceitfulness of wealth and the love of money only made it so much more difficult for the rich. Matt 13:22. The Scripture gave us two contrasting examples of two rich persons deliberating over their decision to follow Jesus. Luke 18:16-22; 19:1-10. Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector, responded with faith in Christ Jesus and make light of his possessions instantly, while the rich young ruler was reluctant to give up his possessions to follow Jesus.
Sadly in most of Christendom today, the decision to follow Jesus for the wealthy does not include deliberating over the cost of discipleship and making the resolve to accept the terms. Luke 14:26,27,33. The poor has little resistance to accept the discipleship terms because they do not have the social status and possessions in the first place to give up in order to follow Jesus.