From rags to riches is a common theme in literature, pop culture, and music. In real life, losers sometimes become champions. It’s appealing. After all, who wouldn’t want to go from failure to success, from poverty to wealth?
For Christians, the themes of Advent and Christmas are the opposite: from riches to rags. John’s gospel begins, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Jesus is the living Word of God. He existed with his Father and the Holy Spirit from eternity. He was the active Word at Creation. He was the Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament. Old Testament prophesied him as the Messiah. Indeed, Christ had it all as Lord of heaven and earth.
But, sin entered the world through humankind. The hope of living in holiness disappeared. Humans would know only misery, guilt, and death.
Here we witness God’s boundless love. Christ did the unthinkable. He surrendered heaven’s glories, “became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). He became what he was not so that we could become what we are not. Christ who is “in very nature God…made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant…[suffering] even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:6-8).
We will never fully understand Christ’s actions this side of eternity. Yet, he set aside heavenly glory—his “riches”— and took up humanity—our “rags”—as prophesied. His boundless love and undeserved grace are the greatest gifts ever!
From rags to riches. It’s a great story. Everyone loves cheering for an underdog.
Yet, Christ’s riches to rags story is far greater. He laid aside heaven’s riches for us. Now, as our risen and victorious Savior, he reigns again in glory.
From all of us at Lakeside: God bless your celebration of his love through Christ. May he also bless you with a joyous New Year.
Jim Grasby is principal of Lakeside Lutheran. Reach him at 920.648.2321 or firstname.lastname@example.org