Christ's Poverty, Our Riches
In this Advent season of the year, it is good for us to reflect on the lowly birth of our Savior Jesus Christ in the fullness of time, even as we anticipate His glorious return in the end of this age.
Rev. Michael DeVries (1978 PRCTS Graduate) wrote a Christmas meditation two years ago for the Standard Bearer in which he reflected on 2 Corinthians 8:9, “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.”
Here are a few paragraphs from that beautiful exposition; for the complete text, follow the link above.
Yet, the awful poverty of Bethlehem was a sign! Remember when the shepherds were visited on the glorious night by the angel who told them of the birth of Christ. At that time, the angel made it quite clear that this poverty was a sign to them: “And this shall be a sign unto you: ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12). Of what was this poverty a sign? It was a sign of the poverty of the human nature into which Christ entered. We cannot comprehend the full reality of this poverty and the suffering Christ endured because of it. God became a man! He who was omnipotent became weak and helpless—a babe in His mother’s arms, a man among men. He who created food and drink became hungry and thirsty. He who had the power of life in Himself and was dependent upon no one grew weary and required sleep. He who was above the law, and who had created the law, was now born under the law, obligated to perform all the requirements of the law and was subject to its penalties.
Yet all this was by no means the worst of Christ’s suffering. He had to endure all His life long the burden of God’s wrath. He who had tasted and experienced the communion with the Father and the Holy Spirit now had to experience God’s wrath. There is here too an element in the mystery of the incarnation that we cannot understand. We know from Scripture that God’s Word was, “Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Yet at the same time Christ bore God’s wrath all His life long. Bethlehem and its poverty was a sign of it. Yet all this was because Christ bore the sins and guilt of His people. His poverty was because the burden of our sin and guilt rested upon Him. That poverty reached its climax on the cross. He became poor by making the sin and guilt that belonged to us His own.
...And it is in this way that we are made rich! Because He became poor for us, we became rich through His poverty. We are delivered from the terrible poverty of sin and death and guilt and hell. We are raised into the glory of heaven! We are given riches beyond our wildest imaginations—all of the blessings of salvation! We are taken to heaven to inherit the whole redeemed universe, even to reign over it with Christ forever. You cannot fix a price tag to those riches! You cannot place a dollar value on them! They are greater than all the world. And they are ours by grace alone because Christ became poor for us, entering into our poverty, that we might share in His riches.
Let us ponder this gospel of sovereign grace. Let us make a spiritual pilgrimage to Bethlehem this advent season. See there the shame of the lowly stable and the swaddling clothes. Remember that it is your shame and mine. Remember, too, that only in this way could Christ make room in our poverty-stricken hearts and reveal Himself as our blessed Savior. The Christmas story is the story of the riches of salvation—salvation by grace. Let us rejoice in the unspeakable riches that we have in Christ Jesus! O come, let us adore Him!