“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 Corinthians 8:9, KJV)
Henry Barraclough wrote a Hymn in 1915 that is sung very little today but has deep implications for us. The title is, “Ivory Palaces.” When we look at the words of the refrain, we catch a glimpse of the glory Jesus left and the sharp contrast of what He entered in being born in this world.
Out of the ivory palaces,
Into a world of woe,
Only His great eternal love
Made my Savior go.
When Jesus was born in that Bethlehem stable and placed in a feed trough for a bed, few would have imagined the fullest impact of His birth. We scarcely can even imagine what our Savior experienced in His pre-incarnate state and the antithesis that He experienced here.
The Scriptures are clear that Jesus is eternal God the Son. He existed in eternity past and will forever. He was not a created being but became the God-man in that birth in Bethlehem. John wrote of Him as the Word that was God, He existed with God, and that all things were created by Him (John 1:1-3). Paul clearly affirmed that Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the creator, and the sustainer of all creation (Col 1:16-17).
Jesus in His high priestly prayer spoke of His eternal pre-incarnate existence. “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was” (John 17:5, KJV). Jesus’ words are very clear. The Lord Jesus described Himself as the “Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22:13, KJV).He existed before creation with the Father in heaven.
We need to stretch our minds to understand what Jesus left behind to live here on this earth for a while. In heaven He manifested the full glory of God but gave up this outward manifestation while on this earth (Phil 2:6-7). In heaven He existed in an environment void of any sin, pain, or suffering but on earth He lived in an environment filled with sin, pain, and suffering. In heaven He was worshipped and adored but on earth men would revile and ultimately crucify Him.
Just as Barraclough wrote in a reference to Psalm 45, Jesus left the most glorious home, an ivory palace, a place of untold riches, to live here on this earth in relative poverty. Why did He do it? He did it because of His eternal love for us. The greatest expression of love that was ever demonstrated to man was accomplished by His coming here from heaven to take the penalty of our sin on Himself by dying on a cross.
Paul stated it correctly, “though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” All of us who have believed are citizens and heirs of heaven. We all have become immensely rich because He, Jesus, gave everything up for us. Let us contemplate the depth of His love for us, the magnificence of His mercy and grace. If we grasp it, our hearts will be moved to respond with love for Him and one another.