Riches Through Christ's Poverty
George Everard, 1885
It seems a strange thing that the two emblems of salvation should be a manger and a cross. Yet so it is. The one shows the depth of Christ's humiliation at His birth, the other at His death. And over both the eye of faith, enlightened by His Spirit, may read such words as these, "You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich — yet for your sokes He became poor, that you through His poverty might be rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9).
Behold in this passage two ladders. By the one you see the Son of God stooping to become the Son of man, and as such taking up our heritage of sorrow, suffering, and death.
By the other you see man rising from depths of sin and woe — to become the child of the living God, and as such to receive an inheritance of peace, life, and glory. Look at both sides.
It is not often seen on earth — a rich man giving up wealth and becoming poor for the sake of others. Occasionally, however, we see something akin to it.
An emperor has been known to leave his throne and to work in a dockyard that he might raise his people. A father has been known to give up his own comfortable home and live in comparative poverty, that he might save a son from the exposure of his dishonest practices.
But far, far beyond all possible comparison was the self-sacrifice of the Lord Jesus.
Think how rich was Christ in His glory with the Father. Think of the honor which was His due. All the angels of God worshiped Him. Cherubim and Seraphim adored Him, "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty!" (see John 12:41).
Take your flight in imagination to the most distant realms of God's universe, and there the Son of God was adored by the highest intelligences.
He was rich as the heir of all things. All things were made by Him and for Him. You say a monarch is rich who has a kingdom of unbounded wealth beneath his sway. But the Son of God could claim this world and all worlds as His. Not a planet, not a distant star, nor one of those countless bodies in the deep azure sky, but owned Him as its Lord and King.
He was rich in the Father's love. "The Father loves the Son." "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Oh, what a treasure of joy was this to Christ! And all this had been His from eternity. None can imagine or describe the majesty, the glory, the wealth of possession, of love, of joy that pertained to Him before the world was. Yet all was laid aside. He was rich — yet he became poor.
Was He high in honor? He stooped to become the child of a Galilean peasant. He was despised and rejected of men. At His birth no room was found for Him in the village inn. At His death He was treated as a criminal of the lowest class and nailed to a cross.
He was rich as the possessor of all things. While here below He had nothing of His own. He was nourished as an infant at His mother's breast, and in later days supplied by the alms of those women who followed Him. He knew the meaning of hunger and thirst. Oft-times he had nowhere to lay His head. At last they laid Him in another's tomb.
Was He beloved of His Father? On earth they hated Him without a cause. Though His whole life was spent for others — yet envy, jealousy, malice tracked every footstep. His friends forsook Him, and His enemies even after death pursued Him with bitter hatred. Even the Father withheld for a season the light of His countenance, so that for the moment He seemed forsaken both of God and man.
And WHY did He stoop to all this? Why did He become thus poor? It was for our enriching. It was to raise man from soul-poverty and to give Him possession of the true riches.
For the riches which Christ imparts are the only true riches. Business may prosper, wealth may flow in through various channels, men may have an interest in gold-mines, estates, government securities, and the like. But these may grow valueless, or we may be unable to find pleasure in the possession of them.
But in Christ, is gold tried in the fire, a treasure that never fails, and whose possession gives evermore true and abiding joy. And in whatever Christ was poor, in that we receive the corresponding riches.
For the shame and contempt He endured — He gives the highest honor, a place in the family of the Great King — and thus the once degraded sinner becomes one of the nobility of Heaven.
He endured the loss of all things — that we may gain all things. We become heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. "All things are yours."
For the hatred poured upon Christ — we gain unchangeable, eternal love. The love of the Father, the love of Christ, the love of the Spirit, the love of every angel in Heaven and every saint in glory — all are ours in Christ.
For the sorrows which Christ bore — comes to man a portion of true, lasting joy, a song of gladness that never ceases, a river, yes, rivers of pleasure for evermore.
Oh the poverty of a soul without Christ! In less than half an hour, every earthly thing may be yours no longer, and all beyond a dark, dark blank!
Oh the riches untold that belong to the soul that comes to Him and cleaves to Him! For Christ Himself, His favor, His white robes, His everlasting love, His anointing, His glorious kingdom — these are yours through all the ages to come!
Are you poor or rich, friend? Oh seek to be rich indeed!
Then learn like Him to sacrifice yourself for others, and to have a spirit ever alive to the needs and woes of suffering humanity.