The Riches and Poverty of Christ
2 Corinthians 8:9
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor…

I. THE NATIVE RICHES OF CHRIST. They are the riches of God. Whatever God is, and has, "the Only-begotten of the Father" possesses.

1. These riches were first displayed in the things which He made (John 1:2; Colossians 1:15-17). He is the hidden spring, the open river, and the ocean fulness of universal life and being.

2. But, whilst He is the presupposition of all things, He is also the prophecy of all things. All things look to, move towards, and only rest in Him. Creatures have latent powers that they cannot exercise, desires that they never satisfy. Man is felt and seen to be the crown of nature. But among the sons of men there is no complete man. When "the Word became flesh," human nature first became complete and crowned.

3. What then must His riches be who is the wealth of God? Riches among men are distributed. To one is given genius; to another force of character; to another social eminence; to another worldly abundance. But the native riches of our Lord is the wealth of all wealth. In Him it pleases the whole fulness of God to dwell. Consider first the earth in all its wealth of land and ocean; its production of life in all its forms; the riches of its hidden wisdom in the prevailing order of its silent forces; and the wealth of goodness displayed in the designed beneficence that constrains all things to subserve the well-being of all creatures. Then call to mind the wealth which flows in the stream of human life. From the earth we must rise to the starry heavens, and thence to the infinite unseen beyond, before we can begin to estimate the native riches of Him of whose grace our text speaks; the "unsearchable riches" which He had with the Father before all worlds, by the possession of which it became His great work to "cause all to see," etc. (Ephesians 3:9, 10), The riches of our Lord will only be seen in the end.

II. THE POVERTY HE CHOSE. To be poor, never having been anything else, can scarcely be regarded as an evil; but to become poor — how great a calamity! Yet He who was rich in all the wealth of God became poor. Consider the poverty of —

1. His nature. "The Word became flesh," the frailest and most corruptible of all the forms of life. He who had life in Himself became dependent for life, and breath, and all things. He whom angels worshipped was made so much lower than they as to welcome their ministrations. He who was the bread of God became dependent upon the bread of the world. He, the Eternal Son, having "life in Himself," became partaker of a life subject to all the laws of developed existence. He who was the Wisdom of God grew in knowledge. He who was possessed of "all power" craves the sustaining fellowship of men. And He to whom all pray became Himself a man of prayer, whose prayers were agonies unto blood-sweating.

2. His circumstances.

(1) The time of His birth was poor — when the degradation of His nation was complete, when Judaea wore a foreign yoke.

(2) The place of His birth was in keeping with the time.

(3) As He was born in poverty, so in poverty He was brought up, and in poverty He lived and died.

3. His experience. He was "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." Now there is nothing makes us feel how utterly poor we are like sorrow. We only weep when we are at our wits' end, and our last resource has been exhausted. Jesus was "stricken, smitten of God and afflicted"; "He was numbered with transgressors."

III. THE WEALTH OF HIS POVERTY. It is through His poverty that we are made rich. His riches flow to us, and become ours, through His poverty. His riches require poverty as the medium through which alone they can be given to the poor. Note —

1. Its voluntariness. He became poor. By His own act "He became poor," the act of His eager love and obedience (Hebrews 10:5-7). No one took from off His brow the crown of heaven, He laid it aside; no one stripped Him of His royal robes, He unrobed Himself; no one paralysed the arm of His power, of Himself He chose our weakness; He laid down the life of heaven for the life of earth, as He laid down the life of earth for the life of heaven.

2. Its vicariousness. His riches were not laid aside for the sons of light; or for the angels who kept not their first estate, but for the dust-clothed and sinful children of earth. Had our circumstances and condition, calling for His help, been the result of misfortune or ignorance, His pity were not so strange. But He became poor for sinners, for rebels, hard and unrelenting in their rebellion. "Hereby perceive we the love of God," "in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Through such poverty flow riches enough to quicken the dead in trespasses and sins.

3. The beneficence of its purpose. He does not contemplate our deliverance merely, nor our restoration to man's primitive state. He became poor that we may be rich in all the filial correspondences of the Father's wealth. "My God shall supply all your need," etc.

4. The fittingness of His poverty for the communication of His riches. We must become that which we would bless. The father makes himself a child that he may win the child's heart; the teacher makes himself one with his scholars that he may the better teach them. We must weep with those who weep if we would comfort them, and lie under the sins of sinners if we would save them from their sins. The riches of Christ's grace could only be communicated through the poverty which brought Him under our condition. "He who was rich became poor," "was compassed with our infirmity," "touched with our feeling," "tempted in all points as we are," "that we might find grace to help in every time of need," and that He might become our "eternal salvation."

5. The capacity for wealth contained in poverty. Only a nature capable of great riches can be subject to great poverty. But the depth of poverty measures the experience of the riches which deliver from its destitution. Only a creature made in the image of God, and constituted a partaker of the Divine nature, could suffer the loss of God and be "without hope in the world." And only on those who have suffered from the want of God could there be the display of His innermost riches. The deepest wants in man are met by the innermost "needs be" in God. Sin opens up and explores in the creature solemn and awful depths, but the awful depths of sin become filled with God's mercy towards sinners.

(W. Pulsford, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: 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 Poverty that Made Others Rich
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