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. 2 Cor 8:9
We could hardly claim to know the full implications of this scripture. For Jesus even to consider leaving Heaven to come to earth, that thought itself was an unimaginable sacrifice on His part. It was an affront to Who He was; but He allowed it. Praise be to Him!
But the Son of God would go beyond thinking it. He would actively carry out that thought, and carry it out to its fullness. He would perform it to perfection. But that would require Him to go all the way, and the road was long indeed. But go it He would; and He did.
He stepped out from His throne and put off the Body of His glory. Next He took up the body of our flesh and put it on. He then came down to earth and lived among fallen humankind, enduring the lowliest life that any man could ever know, beginning with His birth in a cowshed.
He knew hunger, he knew physical fatigue. He knew sleeplessness. In His adult life, He had nowhere to lay His head. He knew human-ness as any human being can claim to know it.
In His altercations with the Jewish leaders, Jesus endured the impossible as man stared God in the face and ridiculed the Law of God that He carried in His heart.
Ultimately, Jesus would suffer incredible physical humiliation and abuse at the hands of the Jews and the Roman soldiers; and finally He would die an ignominious death of crucifixion, alone, abandoned even by His closest associates. Jesus carried out God’s plan to its bitter end.
And yet there is a hidden mystery in all this…
When you read Hebrews 12:2 it talks of Jesus thus: “… who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God”. Here you get the idea that Jesus would be rewarded for His sacrifice.
But when you read Jesus’ prayer in John 17:5, you get a completely different view of what Jesus hoped to get from His sacrifice. He says, “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was”. In other words, after Jesus had accomplished His mission on the Cross all He was asking of His Father was to restore to Him the same glory that He had before the world was created.
Jesus would be rewarded as a man, but not as God. That is astonishing, to say the least. It means that Jesus (as God) was not receiving anything more than what He had before in return for His sacrifice. He would simply be going back to His old glory. The Bible says that Jesus was God. Even after all that suffering, there was nothing more He could become or gain as God apart from what He already had been. God cannot possibly become anything more than what He already is – GOD.
In other words, Jesus came down to our level for one purpose: He came for us, not for Himself. He came to make us to be like Him. The first Adam could never be God, because He was made from dust. The Bible says, “And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.” (1 Cor. 15:45) In other words, Jesus came to make us in the image of God Himself. Thus is fulfilled the scripture in Psalm 82:6, “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.”
The Bible says that Jesus came to reconcile us with Himself. That is all He suffered and died for: that we might become like Him, and be united with Him. Then He would go back and sit exactly where He had sat before.
The incredulousness of Jesus’ sacrifice lies in the fact that he did it all for us. All He accomplished was for us. Jesus did not do it to receive anything back. He did all He did out of love. Love never expects anything back. That is the incredible mystery of God becoming man.
The Psalmist, beholding and understanding the truth of Jesus’ sacrifice in the spirit marvels, “LORD, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him! or the son of man, that thou makest account of him!” Psalm 144:3
In another place he asks, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.” Psalm 8:4-5
Jesus, though He was rich, became poor, that we might become rich. This is the greatest love story ever. The Bible says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Jesus sacrificed Himself selflessly to purchase for Himself something He loved dearly: man.
Dear reader, what thinkest thou? Knowing who man is, it is an incredible thought indeed. But, more incredibly still, as we partake of the nature of God, we also begin living the sacrificial life that He lived. This is the true blessing.