Friday, December 19, 2008

He was rich, yet for your sakes became poor!

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, that you through His poverty might become rich.

Christ was rich before coming to save us. Can you fathom that? He wasn't rich in the superficial way we describe “rich” as in having lots of money and stuff. Rather, before the incarnation, He enjoyed the richness of perfect fellowship and communion with the Father. There was nothing between He and His Father. There was not the limitation of a body to thwart perfect unity with the Father. For eternity past this is how it was. There could be no greater wealth than to enjoy perfect communion with the Father.

As imperfect as it is, human unity feels great. It feels good to be in one accord with each another. When our households are at peace because husband and wife have nothing between them feels so good. Unity in a local church promotes a great sense of peace and acceptance. To be worshiping our God in one accord with unity between us is a small taste of heaven on earth. The Psalmist captured this phenomena when penning these words- “How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity.” In an even greater way than this Christ was as rich as one could be. Paul captures this when He says “that though He was rich, for your sake he became poor.” And He certainly became poor. He subjected himself to a kind of broken fellowship with the Father for a time, took on the limitations of a body, and allowed Himself to be subject to His own creation to the point of death on the cross. There is no way to quantify the incarnation. It simply doesn’t make sense. At least not to my human way of thinking. God's Word clearly declares it and explains as much as I need to know concerning it, but I am still left in reverent awe when I consider the incarnation. The word “incarnation” includes the Greek word for flesh- karnos. It means that something previously without a fleshly body, takes on such a body. This is what Jesus did precisely.

The willingness of God to enact His plan of redemption and to fulfill it by the Second Person of the Trinity becoming man never ceases to blow me away. Yet, we read ever so clearly in the gospel of John- and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The Eternal Christ, who for eternity past beheld face to face the glory of His Father, gave a great measure of that up (for a time) in order to dwell among us! Very bluntly, without this enigmatic, mysterious, even bewildering reality of the incarnation- there is no salvation. Packer states it well-

“The incarnation is in itself an unfathomable mystery, but it makes sense of everything else that the New Testament contains” -J.I. Packer

I hope we have become alarmed once again to the magnificence of God becoming man. It is so hard to imagine, yet it is so plain in Scripture. Perhaps to better grasp how amazing Christ’s condescension is, think of it in terms most of us can relate. When we go to the doctor’s office for a physical, it is because we want to be healthy people. The doctor conducts the physical and tells you upon its conclusion that several things in your lifestyle need to change in order to get healthy or stay healthy. Watch your cholesterol intake, watch your salt intake, get more exercise, lose weight, quit taking in so much caffeine, take this or that medication, the list goes on. We receive these instructions, yet we rarely make the changes for long. We want to be healthy, we want to do what it takes to live long and well, yet we seldom can make the seeming sacrifices to accomplish that goal. Now, if we are so reluctant to give up things in order to better our estate, how much more reluctant would we be to better someone else’s estate? Especially to better someone else’s estate who was rebellious or antagonistic toward us. If you told me I needed to change my lifestyle for my children, I might do it and have some success. If you told me I needed to change my lifestyle for someone who was an enemy, I would be very unmotivated to comply. Yet, Christ, for us rebellious and sinful people, gave up His eternal riches for a time, became man, and saved us.


Rick Calohan said...

Great is the mystery of faith, to think for centuries after the fall, those who came to repent during Yom Kippur by bringing animals to be slaughtered by the high priest and sprinkle blood on the alter in the holy of holies, yet it took His (Christ) stripes to restore our relationship to God the Father. It took Christ to tear down the curtain between man and God.

As we entered the fourth week of Advent and approach Christmas to celebrate the birth of Christ, we must also keep in mind that it took Christ life, Christ sacrifice, Christ death, and Christ resurrection to renewal our relationship to God the Father otherwise Christmas becomes an empty day of giving gifts to family and friends that will only return them or exchange the following day. Let us remember the greatest gift is not the X-Box, the new clothing, or toys that parents can’t wait for the batteries to go out of. No, the perfect gift was given to us by God the Father, whom by His Grace gave us salvation through His Son Jesus Christ.

Frontier Forest said...

My Dear Brother Rick, my wife and I were blessed as we ponder your thoughts about Redeemer, the birth of God's Son, your bride and the birth of your own son, during this most special of all seasons. As you gave light to the third Advent candle, your words took me back to the time me and Cheri were honored to have a Redeemer Advent light/sharing opportunity. Your powerful and uncompromising testimony of redemption, forgiveness and living out God’s grace has meant to much to fellow sinners like me.

Qayaq said...

I guess you do not have a problem with violations of the second commandment.

This Christmas I have heard from a few Reformed Christians who want to take Christ out of Christmas because it violates the second commandment, catechism question 109. One group even went so far as to do the entire nativity story but with an empty manger. This is similar to what atheists and other God haters are trying to do in taking Christ out of everything.

I am glad you are not of this lot :)

Reepicheep said...

I do have major problems with violations of any of the commandments. I just don't see nativity scenes as violations. Tasteful pictures of the second person of the Trinity for the purpose of education and art are not violations of the 2nd commandment.

Christ came as a man...what if someone would have snapped a picture? Would it have been blank?

Further, Jesus is pictured by Moses when he raised the serpent in the wilderness. A physical image made to refer to God the Son. Was Moses violating the 2nd commandment? Jesus didn't think so.