Sleigh bells jingled in the background, and lights twinkled as I waited at the end of a long line of strangers to exchange my cash for our daughter’s Christmas gift. In a limited sense, I became poorer so she could become richer. When we give a gift, we sacrifice—usually money—and ultimately, time. Yet my transaction didn’t make me truly “poor” or make her truly “rich.”
But what if our family left our suburban home with only the clothes on our backs? What if we left our cars in the garage, our furniture, our technology, our clothes, our freezer full of food, our education, our jobs, our children’s school, and all that we have and do. And what if a refugee family from a third-world country moved in and suddenly acquired all we left behind . . . while we took up their life of hand-to-mouth poverty? We, who had been rich, for their sakes would become poor that they might gain our riches.
What if a billionaire traded places with the poorest of peasants? What if the Son of God became poor for earthlings like us?
Jesus willingly embraced the ultimate poverty. He left His Father and all that encompasses the celestial sphere to become a helpless infant. He took on human limitations. The hand that formed the heavens with the moon and the stars, wrapped themselves around a teenage girl’s finger as she lovingly swaddled Him in homespun strips of cloth. He became utterly dependent on the people He created—for milk, for shelter, for protection. Although He was the Word from the beginning, He had to learn to talk. Taking on humanity demonstrated no small sacrifice. He traded all of heaven’s glory for our sakes so that we could acquire all He left behind.
We celebrate Christmas because a Savior came to provide eternal life. We sing carols about joy, celebrate with candlelight services, and re-enact the Nativity. We rejoice in the benefits of His grace.
But Jesus experienced unfathomable loss. Loss for a sinful people who may take the incarnation for granted. And if becoming a baby wasn’t humbling enough, He gave up His life as the ultimate sacrifice. For our sakes—all because He loves us.
This Christmas, when we remember God’ unspeakable gift, let’s also remember it’s through His poverty that we become truly rich. Joy to the world!
(Photo courtesy of morguefile and GaborFromHungary.)
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