Preparation for the Lord’s Table
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” 2 Corinthians 8:9
Whatever this passage has to say, it begins with grace. Whatever truth it reveals to our hearts, it starts with grace. Whatever hope, comfort, and strength we draw from this one verse of Scripture, it’s foundation is that of grace.
It is not about something we deserve or could do for ourselves. It is not something that Jesus was or is obligated to do for us as if we had some kind of merit toward God, as if God owed us something for something good we’ve done. The benefits of this passage do not come to us because we’ve done the right thing, or held off doing the wrong thing.
What it is about is grace. The benefit of this passage come to us because we are not worthy, because we cannot earn it, because we do not deserve it, because we do not have any merit before God, because we’ve done nothing good. Apart from the grace of God in Jesus Christ, there’s nothing good or worthy or commendable in us, or in what we say, or in what we think, or in what we feel, or in what we do – that God owes us anything.
The verse, speaking of the Lord Jesus, says “though He was rich”. What does that mean? What does it mean that Jesus was rich? Was He not the one who said “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head”? “Though He was rich” cannot refer to His bank balance, or economic net worth, or His asset register.
Perhaps it refers to the glory that Jesus had with the Father. Perhaps it refers to the pre-incarnate glory of the Son of God.
Perhaps it has more to do with His righteousness – the fact that He had spiritual value, worth, and currency before God – in that all that He was, all that He thought, all that He felt, all that He said, all that He did – all of it was good before God, all of it was right in the sight of God, all of it was upright, noble, true, driven by a pure heart and pure motives.
The verse, speaking of the Lord Jesus, says “He became poor.” What does that mean? What does it mean that Jesus became poor? If His riches, His wealth is not so much about physical and economic value – perhaps His becoming poor is more than just the reality that He was born and lived with the reputation of being a nobody from nowhere. Maybe it’s even more than the reality that He hung on the cross, having been treated as a criminal, having had His clothes taken from Him, only to be buried in a borrowed tomb.
Perhaps Jesus’ becoming poor has to do with His becoming poor in spirit. Perhaps His poverty was spiritual. Perhaps He became spiritually impoverished. His being rich was a matter of righteousness, of His being righteous. His becoming poor was a matter of unrighteousness. His becoming poor was a matter of Him becoming sin. This accords with a more well-known verse that tells us that He who knew no sin became sin. To put that another way, He who knew only righteousness became unrighteousness.
Jesus’ act of self-imposed poverty, of divine imposed poverty was one in which He became sin, He became that which is opposite and opposed to God, that which attracts the very wrath of a Holy God – this He did by bearing our sins in His body and going to the cross.
The verse, now speaking of us and to us says that though Jesus was rich, He became poor so that we might become rich.
The rich that you become through the poverty of the Lord Jesus Christ, is the same kind of rich that Jesus was before He became poor. If the kind of rich that Jesus was had to do with His righteousness, and His being righteous before God, then the kind of rich we become through His poverty has to do with righteousness, of being made righteous before God. Yet it’s not our righteousness, it is not that we are righteous in and of ourselves, because we have no righteousness, and there are none righteous.
The reality is that is it His record of righteousness, the rightness of who Jesus is and was, of what Jesus thought and felt, of what Jesus said and did – and the sinlessness of it all – that becomes ours, that’s credited to our accord, that’s seen as somehow belonging to us.
By the grace of our Lord Jesus, He gives us, at great cost to Himself, the required record of his own righteousness required for citizenship and participation in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Do you ever ask the question “Why?” Do you ever ask “Why did Jesus become sin?” or “Why did Jesus become poor?” Or “Why did Jesus become my sin, or become my poverty?”
In light of all this passage has to say to us about the Righteous One becoming unrighteousness, about the sinless one becoming sin, it tells us why, in three little words: For; Your; Sake.
For your sake. For my sake. For our sakes. Why did Jesus do what He did? Why did Jesus become poor? Why did Jesus become sin? For you. For me. For us.
This reminds me of something Jesus said as He instituted what we sometimes refer to as the Lord’s Supper. As He broke the bread He said “This is MY body, broken for YOU.” Though His primary purpose was to glorify God through His obedience, Jesus did what He did for our sakes, for your sake, for my sake – so as to redeem us, rescue us, reconcile us, save us, seal us, have Him for Himself.
As we come to the table, I want us to be mindful, to carefully consider what the broken bread represents. It represents the poverty of the Lord Jesus as He effectively became unrighteousness, and unrighteous before a righteous God. It represents the reality that though Jesus was rich in His sinlessness, He became poor in His becoming sin, and the object of sin before a sinless God.