Fighting poverty has been at the forefront of American politics for longer than I have been alive. Every few years a new government program is established to ward off the devastating effects of poverty in our nation. This issue is customarily brought to our attention during December. Well-intentioned efforts are made during the Christmas season to gather food for the needy, winter coats for the underprivileged, and toys so that every child can have a gift under the Christmas tree. Many claim that this is what Christmas is supposed to be about. Surely the volunteers who ring bells at the red kettles across our nation would agree with this assertion. But are we ready to agree that Jesus was born to fight poverty?
But not the poverty that is described as a deficiency in material goods. The poverty that caused the Son of God to be born into this world was much deeper and far more devastating in its effects than what most Americans would define as poverty. It was the spiritual poverty, the absolute bankruptcy of righteousness common among all people, that moved God the Father to send His Son to be born of a virgin in Bethlehem.
The eternal Son of God was rich in all things—rich in glory, majesty, might, and dominion with the Father and the Holy Spirit. When God looked down upon the lost condition of fallen mankind, He had compassion, and in the greatness of His love and immeasurable grace Jesus was born into this world, born of a woman, born under the law.
He became poor for our sakes that we might be delivered from poverty—the devastating spiritual poverty from which we could never deliver ourselves.
Jesus came into the world not only to be born in the humble circumstances of that stable but also to take upon Himself the debt of our sin. He redeemed us by becoming the propitiating sacrifice that paid our sin-debt. Through Him we were delivered from the poverty of our sin and enriched with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places.
Already now—this Christmas season and throughout the year—we rejoice in the gift that has been given us by Jesus. Indeed, we should experience such joy and excitement at the success of the ‘Jesus Antipoverty Program’ that we celebrate with the enthusiasm demonstrated by the young child unwrapping a gift selected just for him from under the Christmas tree!
That is how personal this gift is, for it was not simply the mass of humanity that moved the Lord to come and save. It was also that He had compassion upon you and me as individuals and loved us. He came to be poor, so that we might be made rich—rich here in time and hereafter in eternity.
In eternity we shall appreciate the full measure of the richness of God’s grace, and we shall glorify Jesus for having come into this world to defeat the poverty that ensnared us all.
We are rich, for He was poor;
Is not this a wonder?
Therefore praise God evermore
Here on earth and yonder.