Christ’s Poverty (Our Wealth)
There is hope in Christ. This life is filled with difficulties and disappointments that scar us in every imaginable way. Untold stories of unbelievable pain fill the lives of humanity. Beyond our American experience there is a poverty deeper than we may be willing to acknolwedge. All those scars actually double as echoes of sin and glimpses of hope. Depravity and poverty cast a shadow of despair on the souls of mankind that only a substitutionary poverty can reverse. Christ was the good plan and news of God to make us truly rich. This is evident in Isaiah’s prophecy, Christ’s sermon on the mount, and Paul’s appeal to the Corinthians.
1. Isaiah’s Prophecy
“Who has believed what he has heard from us?And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows,and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”
There are few other passages in God’s word that can so powerfully capture the brutality of grace exemplified in He who was pierced for our transgressions. Here the great exchange of our iniquity and His affliction results in the peace and healing we can only experience through the man of sorrows enduring our penalty. Christ is the ultimate expression of humanity’s deepest need; moreover, He is the incarnation of our only hope.
2. Christ’s Sermon on the Mount
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
The first of Jesus’ teaching blocks in the gospel of Matthew clearly demonstrates the radical reversal of the kingdom. Those marked by poverty (a spiritual awareness of our depravity) will inherit the wealth of eternity in the very presence of God. Those concerned with the riches of this world will have difficulty entering the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:23-24). Such poverty is paradoxically the greatest treasure we might dare hope to find.
3. Paul’s Appeal to the Corinthians
2 Corinthians 8:9
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”
As Paul seeks to exhort the Corinthian church to exemplify gospel graciousness, he clearly articulates the substitutionary poverty of Christ. This man of sorrows, with no form, majesty, or beauty has become poor so that we might become poor in the richest sense of the word.
Where should this lead us? We are led to the conclusion implied by Jesus’ parable of the hidden treasure.
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
All the treasures of this world pale in comparison to the poverty we find in Christ. He is worth counting all things as rubbish in order that we may know Him in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering (Philippians 3:7-11).