December 05, 2022

Poor Jesus

Luke 2:22-24

Though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor.

—  2 Corinthians 8:9

The apostle Paul says Jesus was rich. Of course. He was God, after all. But it’s not that God has a fat bank account or lives on a private island. So perhaps Paul means “rich” in some other way. And when he says Jesus became poor, does that mean “poor” in some other way, some unusual way?

Luke describes a time when the whole family went to Jerusalem. Jesus was about six weeks old. It was time for Mary to offer a pair of post-childbirth sacrifices at the temple. The usual offerings were a lamb and a pigeon (or maybe a dove). But instead Mary offered either “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.” And that was okay, because there was a special allowance for families that couldn’t afford a lamb. So Joseph and Mary and Jesus must have been poor—in the usual way.

I wonder what that meant for Jesus. I wonder what he experienced growing up poor.

One thing that often goes with poverty is food insecurity. Plenty of people go to bed hungry. Maybe you do. Did Jesus know that kind of hunger, the hunger that comes from not having enough food, that comes from being poor? Is that why he taught his disciples to pray for “daily bread”—because in his experience, hunger was never far away? I wonder.

Jesus, you know what it means to be poor and hungry. You know what some of us know very well, but that many of us can only imagine. No wonder we’re hungry for you. Amen.

About the author — Bob Arbogast

Bob Arbogast is the pastor of Celebration Fellowship church in Ionia, Michigan. In his spare time, he plays guitar in a West Michigan blues band. He and his wife Jan have been married forty years and have three adult daughters. Bob has been praying the psalms since 2002.

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