For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. (verse 9)
Incredible heights. Incomprehensible depths. In my mind’s eye I see the chiseled peak of Everest sharp against blue sky, contrasting with the impenetrable blackness of Pacific Ocean depths. From an earth-bound perspective, the distance could hardly be greater.
Yet it’s a mere glimpse of the distance travelled by Jesus to win salvation for us. When Paul uses the word “rich” to describe Christ’s starting point, it reveals the complete inadequacy of language. The word stretches to point us up, up, up to the height of glory, to the majesty of Almighty God, Creator of heaven and earth and all things. “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it” (Psalm 24:1) is merely a beginning taste of that richness that encompasses all worlds, all realms, all beings, all dimensions.
Such wealth and glory Jesus himself set aside to come down. He came down for us, down into poverty, setting aside all rights and position and honour due him, taking the form of a servant, being compressed into human likeness (see Philippians 2:6-8). Although human beings are only “a little lower than the heavenly beings” (Psalms 8:5), yet the contrast is incomprehensible. Nor was he compensated with earthly glory – he came to the rough crudity of a manger.
All for us. All so that we might become unimaginably rich. “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness” so that we “may participate in the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:3-4). Incredible riches.
All of it a measure of his grace. Pure gift. Undeserved. Incapable, ever, of being earned.
Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour, all for love’s sake, becamest poor. Thrones for a manger didst surrender, sapphire-paved courts for stable floor. Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour, all for love’s sake, becamest poor.
Thou who art God beyond all praising, all for love’s sake becamest man. Stooping so low, but sinners raising heavenwards by thine eternal plan. Thou who art God beyond all praising, all for love’s sake becamest man.
Thou who art love beyond all telling, Saviour and King, we worship thee. Emmanuel, within us dwelling, make us what thou wouldst have us be. Thou who art love beyond all telling, Saviour and King, we worship thee.
Reflect: Take the words of the hymn and meditate on them several times during the day. Give thanks to our great Saviour.