THERE was no need that Christ should be poor except for our sakes. Some persons always have been poor, and it seems as if, with all their struggles, they could never rise out of poverty; but of our Lord Jesus Christ it can truly be said that “He was rich.” Shall I take you back, in thought, to the glories of the eternity when, as very God of very God, He dwelt in the bosom of the Father? He was so rich that He was not dependent upon any of the angels He had created, nor did He, rely for glory upon any of the works of His hands. Truly, Heaven was His abode; but He could have made ten thousand Heavens if He had willed to do so. All the greatest wonders He had ever made were but specimens of others that He could make whenever He pleased to do so.
He had all possibility of inconceivable and immeasurable wealth within His power; yet He laid aside all that, denied Himself the power to enrich Himself, and came down to earth that He might save and bless us. His poverty was all voluntary; there was a necessity laid upon Him, but the sole necessity was His own love. There was no need, as far as He was concerned, that He should ever be poor; the only need was because we were in need, and He loved us so that He would rescue us from poverty, and make us eternally rich.
Our Lord’s was also very emphatic poverty. I believe that it is quite true that no one knows the pinch of poverty like a person who has once been rich. It is your fallen emperor, who has to beg his bread, who knows what beggary is. It is the man who once possessed broad acres, who at last has to hire a lodging in a miserable garret, who knows what abject poverty is.
So was it with the Savior. He had been emphatically rich. You cannot press into the word “rich” all that Jesus was; you have to feel that it is a very poor word, even though it be rich, with which to describe His heavenly condition. He was emphatically rich; and so, when He descended into poverty, it was poverty with an emphasis laid upon it, the contrast was so great. The difference between the richest and the poorest man is just nothing compared with the difference between Christ in the glory of His Godhead and Christ in His humiliation, the stoop was altogether immeasurable. You cannot describe His riches, and you cannot describe His poverty. You have never had any idea of how high He was as God; and you can never imagine how low He stooped when He cried, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”
It was great poverty to Christ to be a man. Humanity is a poor thing when you set it in comparison with the Deity. What a narrow space does man fill!
But God is infinite. What a little can man do! Yet God is omnipotent. How little does man know! And God is omniscient. How confined is man to a single spot! And God is omnipresent! I say not that Jesus ever ceased to be God, but we do remember that He became man; and in becoming man, He became poor in comparison with His condition as God.
But then, as man, He was also a poor man. He might have been born in marble halls, swaying the scepter of universal empire, and from His birth receiving the homage of all mankind. But instead of that, you know, He was reputed to be the carpenter’s Son, His mother was but a humble Jewish maid, and His birthplace was a stable, — poor accommodation for the Prince of the kings of the earth. His early life was spent in a carpenter’s shop; and afterwards His companions were mostly poor fishermen, and for His maintenance He was dependent upon the alms of His followers.
The apostle Paul, writing to the church of God at Corinth, and to all who call upon the Name of Jesus Christ, said, “For your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich.” Then, if Christ’s poverty be such as I have tried to describe it, what must the riches of His people be? If our riches are proportionate to His poverty, what rich people we are! He was as poor as poor can be; and we, if we are believing in Him, are as rich as rich can be. So low as He went, so high do we rise. That is how the scales of the sanctuary act; as He sinks, we go up.