‘For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich’ (2 Corinthians 8:9).
Perhaps Christmas should be renamed. After all, for many, Jesus Christ plays a very minor part in the celebrations. Perhaps Partymas or Turkeymas? Tinselmas, Familymas or Giftmas? Or maybe Brokemas!
But this wonderful verse from the Bible tells us five things about Jesus Christ — and what Christmas is really all about.
Jesus was rich
Unlike every other baby, his story didn’t start when he was born. He came into the world, to the manger at Bethlehem, from somewhere else.
The angel Gabriel told Mary that her baby would be called Immanuel, which means ‘God with us’. Jesus was God’s Son, equal with God, one with God. He came from heaven. God was invading his world.
Jesus became poor
Traditional nativity scenes always look so cosy — soft hay, a warm glow. But childbirth is not like that. Doubtless the reality was cold, dark, painful and frightening. Not in a clean hospital, but where the animals sheltered!
Imagine the Queen leaving Buckingham Palace to sleep on a bit of cardboard outside the Ritz. Jesus left the glory of heaven for poverty, trouble and hardship.
Why did he do it?
He became poor to enrich people
Even the best Christmas presents wear out, rust, break, get stolen, or just lose their appeal. They may be eclipsed by a better model or go out of fashion. They cannot truly satisfy.
Jesus came to be a Saviour (that’s what his name ‘Jesus’ means). He came to save his people from their sins — whether greed, selfishness, spoiled kids and adults, family feuds, grumbling, or whatever — and, above all, the sin of ignoring God.
What would you give for a clear conscience, power to change your life, and peace with God? This is a true gift that lasts and the only thing we can take with us beyond death.
How do these riches — forgiveness, new life and a certain future — become available to flawed people like us?
This happens through Jesus’ poverty
Jesus purchased these wonderful gifts for his people at the highest possible cost to himself. He came into this world and lived a perfect life, until the day he offered it up in death on behalf of his guilty people.
The believer in Christ can say, ‘Jesus died on a cruel cross and gave his life for mine, so that God might accept me.’
So how much will it cost me? (That’s always the question!)
God’s riches are offered to you freely
That is what that word ‘grace’ means — God’s undeserved kindness to people who are sorry for the mess they make of their lives and who put their trust in Jesus as the one who died for the guilty.
Jesus has paid for our sins; there is nothing we could even contribute. That is why it is ‘good news of great joy’. In one sense, it costs us absolutely nothing. But, in another sense, it costs us everything.
Jesus Christ is Lord — which means the master or boss. He has the right to be lord of our lives. If we come to him for forgiveness, we must submit to him as master. And Christians do so gladly, wanting to please the one who gave his life that they might have eternal life.
Richer or poorer?
Perhaps this is all new to you. Read it over again; ponder it. In doing so, these words start becoming true of you, ‘You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ’. But do you really know it in your experience? Does Christmas leave you richer or poorer?
To know about Jesus and the way to be right with God, to understand Christmas and yet do nothing about it, is to end up infinitely poorer, both now and for ever.
But, if you will come to God through Christ, you will be eternally rich, however much it costs you to follow him in this life.
May you know God’s best blessings this Christmas, through his Son and our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.