2 Corinthians 8:9 reads, “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.” What a compelling message! Let us examine this great verse together.
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This statement is in a context that deals with the apostle Paul exhorting the saints in Corinth to get moving and prepare their promised contribution. The churches of Macedonia, which were made up of brethren in “deep poverty” (8:2), had given liberally (8:1-5). Now, Paul by the Holy Spirit uses another wonderful example to spur the Corinthian Christians on to action: the example of Jesus. By His grace – His kindness or favor that humanity did not deserve and could never earn, Jesus made an amazing sacrifice so that all people could become rich. While we may often think of the grace of our heavenly Father, the New Testament also speaks of the grace of the Christ, as we again read in 2 Corinthians 13:14, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
“He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor.” Do you see the two facts contained in this statement? Fact #1: Jesus “was rich.” When was that? Not when He lived in the home of Joseph and Mary. Every indication is that they were not people of great wealth in terms of material riches. When they dedicated Jesus to the Lord, they offered birds instead of a lamb (Luke 2:22-24; Leviticus 12:6-8). Those that could afford it, would offer a lamb. Those that could not, offered fowl like Joseph and Mary did. When was the Christ rich? Not during the years of His preaching. Jesus Himself said, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay His head” (Luke 9:58). Before He began His public ministry, He worked as a carpenter (Mark 6:3), and during His short ministry He was dependent upon those that loved Him and “provided for Him from their substance” (Luke 8:3). So, when was our Lord rich? He was wealthy before He came into the world in terms of the relationship that He enjoyed in heaven with the Father.
Fact #2: “He became poor.” When? When He came to this world of sorrow and sin, humbling Himself and taking on the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7,8). By coming to this earth, He willingly took a position in the flesh that made Him temporarily lower than the angels (Hebrews 2:9). While in the flesh, He went through every form of temptation (Hebrews 4:14,15) and, as all people must, passed through physical death (Hebrews 9:27). Did Jesus do all of this for Self? Did He come to earth for His own personal glory? Absolutely not. Our text indicates that He did it for someone else. He had others in mind when He
forfeited temporarily the glory and riches of heaven and intentionally became poor instead. Just for whom would He take such a great step? Answer: For you and me, but not for us only. Yea, “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (1 John 2:2).
“That you through His poverty might be rich.” Here again we see the motivation for our Lord’s coming to earth and offering Himself as a sacrifice. All that He did, He did for us. Why? Because He wants us to be rich! The Rich One became the Poor One in order that poor ones might become rich ones. Let that thought sink deep down in your heart. The Rich One became the Poor One, that poor ones (spiritually bankrupt people – that describes you and me without Jesus!) might be blessed in a spiritual sense. And, what blessings we have in and through our Redeemer!
Each of us that is in the Lord should count himself as rich. Why? Because through Him we receive the benefits of God’s rich love (Ephesians 2:4; 1:3). In Him we are part of the wonderful family of God (1 Timothy 3:15), the great brotherhood of God’s people (1 Peter 2:17). And, through Him we are people of hope, anticipating the inheritance that the Lord has reserved in heaven for us (1 Peter 1:3,4).
In the first century, the church in the city of Smyrna faced some tough times. However, Jesus’ words of comfort must have meant a lot to them: “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich) . . .” (Revelation 2:9). So, which were the saints in Smyrna: poor, or wealthy? From a financial standpoint, they were poor; but from a spiritual point of view, they were wealthy beyond measure. Why? Because they had all spiritual blessings in the Lord! Brothers and sisters, from time to time we may wonder how we are going to have enough money to pay our bills and provide for our loved ones. There may never come a time in our whole lives that we will count ourselves as being rich in this world’s goods. But, if we walk faithfully with the Lord and have Him as our advocate before the Father (1 John 2:1), we are rich indeed!
Thanks be to the Godhead for the wonderful scheme of redemption. Thanks be to the Father for sending His Son to die for our sins. Thanks be to the Son for His willingness to give up His wealthy state in order to make us rich. Thanks be to the Spirit for revealing the gospel of our salvation (Ephesians 1:13). We are so blessed! And not because we deserve it or because God is in debt to us. It is by God’s grace we are rich through the poverty of Jesus. May we never take for granted all that had to be done and sacrificed in order to make possible our spiritual wealth in the Christ.
— Roger D. Campbell
TRUTH is published monthly by the Klang church of Christ in order to help educate, edify, encourage, and equip the saints of God.