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…
The question is often asked - Which gives most pleasure to us - the faculty of memory, which vivifies the past, or anticipation, which brightens the future? The answers we make at once depend upon, and become revelations of, character. The apostle in this passage is using the faculty of memory; he is recalling what is known respecting the Lord Jesus Christ. He is treating of the grace of self-sacrificing liberality and generosity; and of this Christ is the most illustrious and glorious example. We hold the memory of a twofold exchange on the part of the Lord Jesus -
(1) from riches to poverty;
(2) from poverty to riches;
but here the apostle contrasts Christ's exchange from riches to poverty with our exchange, through Christ, from poverty to riches, and this is the double exchange on which we propose to dwell.
I. THE FIRST EXCHANGE. Christ - from riches to poverty. Christ's riches may be treated under the headings
Or we may say that he was rich
(1) in his Divine nature;
(2) in the infinite love and acceptance of the Father;
(3) in the adoration of all holy beings;
(4) in possession of all the wealth and joy of heaven.
Christ's poverty, which was a comparative thing, may be brought out by presenting such contrasts as
(1) God - man;
(2) son - servant;
(3) at home - homeless;
(4) rich - empty;
(5) happy - suffering.
He became poor by
(1) giving up the wealth of heaven;
(2) in his birth as a poor man's child;
(3) in his lowly station as one of the common people;
(4) in his death time of sorest humiliation.
Such a condescension in incarnation had never before been conceived. It surpasses thought. It is the exceeding great mystery which the eternal ages will not fathom. It is "so great love;" it is "what manner of love"
II. THE SECOND EXCHANGE. We - from poverty to riches. By our poverty we need not understand our earthly conditions, seeing that poverty is but a relative thing, and depends upon the degree in which a man matches his circumstances. The man who has little and wants little is not poor; the man who has little and wants much is the man who can alone be called "poor." Our real poverties are the conditions to which we have reduced ourselves by our sins. See how much we have thus lost, so that we are become poor indeed.
(1) Lost harmony with the world;
(2) lost peace within;
(3) lost brotherhood with men;
(4) lost fellowship with God.
Then what are the riches we attain through Christ Jesus? They are riches for the souls, which are our real selves; they are not any mere riches of circumstances. They consist in
(1) the smile and favour of God;
(2) the love of a living and Divine Friend;
(3) the prospect of an eternal glory.
Or we may say that we become rich
(1) in the hope that Jesus brought;
(2) in the words that Jesus spoke;
(3) in the love to us that Jesus showed;
(4) and in the salvation that Jesus secured.
But no human words can exhaust our riches in Christ Jesus.
III. THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THESE TWO EXCHANGES. "For your sakes." The one exchange was made in order to accomplish the other. To bless us Christ must condescend to become one of us. Illustrate by the missionary making himself a Chinaman, and living all alone among the people that he might reach them with the gospel message. Or by the Moravian missionary, giving up friendship, love, and hope, to enter the lazar-house and try to teach and save the lepers. And what did Christ do for us when he had thus humbled himself to take our nature on him? It is said that "he went about doing good," and that was his way of making everybody rich with
(2) truth; and
And St. Paul appeals to the Corinthians and. to us, saying, "Ye know the grace." But do we know? Have we felt the persuasion and attraction that are in such "love Divine, all love excelling"? - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.