Summary: Jesus left His glorious position and endured humilation so that He might make us rich beyond measure.
FROM RICHES TO RAGS
“FROM RAGS TO RICHES.” That’s a common American expression, isn’t it? We know what it means---someone began life in virtual poverty and grew to become wealthy and/or successful. They did on their own. They did it through sheer determination, industry and hard work. They are those who pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps. President George W. Bush appointed a HUD director who was in a foster home as a boy---a Cuban-American.
Another example is John Wanamaker who began his business career on a salary of $1.25 per week. Abraham Lincoln was a poor farmer’s son. Andrew Johnson was a tailor’s apprentice and didn’t learn to read until after he was married. And on and on it goes. We admire these people who have achieved so much from so little.
How different is the life story of Jesus Christ. He became poor that through His poverty we might become rich. Perhaps no single verse of Scripture dramatizes more fully the meaning of Christmas than does II Corinthians 8:9. Three tremendous facts are stated: (1) He was rich; (2) He became poor; (3) that we might be rich. Let’s look at these for a few moments.
HE WAS RICH
His wealth was INFINITE as the Possessor of heaven and earth. All the works of Creation were His. John 1:3: “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” Colossians 1:16: “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.”
He was rich in GLORY. All the hosts of heaven worshipped and sang before His throne. In fact, His glory was so magnificent, so splendid, so pure, that no one could look at Him and live.
He was rich in POWER and AUTHORITY. His word was the Alpha and Omega of law. He spoke the worlds into existence. He flung the stars into space. His truth marches on yet today. Out of His mouth comes a sword that will one day slay the nations with judgment.
HE BECAME POOR
He disrobed Himself of His glory and covered Himself with human flesh. He was born in a cattle stall, of humble peasants and reared in a poor community. All the days of His earthly ministry He was poor. He said, “Foxes have holes, fowls of the air of nests, but the Son of Man has no where to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20).
All of His disciples were poor---at times they had to wander through the fields, plucking ears of corn. He was unable to pay taxes without the performance of a miracle when He caused a fish to cough up a coin.
The rich of His day had little to do with Him. They rejected His message and Messiahship. His poverty reached a climax when He was tried and crucified. He was forsaken even by what few friends He had. He was crucified between two thieves and buried in a borrowed tomb.
And then there is the issue of His leaving the rich communion that He enjoyed with His Father. C.S. Lewis addressed this when he wrote, "Lying at your feet is your dog. Imagine, for the moment, that your dog and every dog is in deep distress. Some of us love dogs very much. If it would help all the dogs in the world to become like men, would you be willing to become a dog? Would you put down your human nature, leave your loved ones, your job, hobbies, your art and literature and music, and choose instead of the intimate communion with your beloved, the poor substitute of looking into the beloved’s face and wagging your tail, unable to smile or speak? Christ by becoming man limited the thing which to Him was the most precious thing in the world; his unhampered, unhindered communion with the Father."
But there was another kind of poverty that Jesus experienced—spiritual poverty. Isaiah spoke of it some 700 years earlier as recorded in the 53rd chapter of his book: “He was despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.”
He took on human weakness, human limitations, human liability to temptation, human loneliness and humiliation. He came into this foul world from the purity and glory of heaven; He left the crystal sea and exchanged it for the environment of sin and death.
Why did He do it? The answer…
THAT WE MIGHT BECOME RICH
We were poor in the sense that…
• We lost the glory and dignity with which we were originally invested