For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.
The eternal Son of God became poor! He lived a human life of poverty. Ray Stedman said,
Remember how he constantly borrowed everything? …. He was always borrowing. He had nothing of his own. He borrowed food, he borrowed clothing, he borrowed a coin to give an illustration, he borrowed a donkey to enter into the city of Jerusalem, and he finally had to borrow a tomb in which to be laid. There was one occasion when it says the disciples all went to their own homes, but he went to the Mount of Olives. He had no home to go to, no place to lay his head. Isn’t that amazing?
But Jesus’ poverty was more than a financial poverty, it involved his becoming a man. Jesus became poor by:
- Relinquishing His Divine rights and prerogatives
Philippians 2:5-7 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
- Assuming Humanity (The Creator becomes a creature. The Master became a servant.)
- Becoming a Baby (with all that entails)
- Having no place to be born and no place to lay His head
Matthew 8:20 The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
- Being stripped of His Garments while on the cross
John 19:23-24 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did.
- Dying on the cross as a criminal (bearing our sins)
Philippians 2:8 He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
In order that we might become rich . . .
- That we might be called the Sons of God
- That we might have a home eternal
- That we might be clothed with His righteousness
- That we might have eternal life.
J.I. Packer expounded on the truth of this verse in his classic Knowing God by saying,
We see now what it meant for the Son of God to empty himself and become poor. It meant a laying aside of glory… a voluntary restraint of power; an acceptance of hardship, isolation, ill-treatment, malice and misunderstanding; finally, a death that involved such agony—spiritual even more than physical—that his mind nearly broke under the prospect of it. (See Lk 12:50 and the Gethsemane story.) It meant love to the uttermost for unlovely human beings, that they through his poverty might become rich. The Christmas message is that there is hope for a ruined humanity—hope of pardon, hope of peace with God, hope of glory—because at the Father’s will Jesus Christ became poor and was born in a stable so that thirty years later he might hang on a cross. It is the most wonderful message that the world has ever heard, or will hear(page 63). (HT: Paul Martin)