When Did Jesus Become Poor?

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich. - 2 Corinthians 8:9 NKJV

It is amazing to me that church people will use this verse that promises wealth and riches to try to talk us out of it! They are so focused on the “Jesus became poor” part that they fail to appropriate the “that you…. might become rich” part. They reason that because Jesus was poor, and He was our example, that we are doomed to poverty as well.

I believe the key to unlocking this verse is in the phrase “for your sakes”. Another words, Jesus became poor as a result of His substitutionary work in redemption. So let us continue in that vein.  So when did Jesus become poor?  We will view it in the light of the rest of His redemptive work.

The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that Jesus became sin for us (note the word “with” identifying it as part of His substitutionary work).
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
2 Corinthians 5:21 NKJV
When did Jesus become sin for us? Did He become sin as the little baby in the manger? Did Jesus become sin during His earthly ministry? No. The New Testament clearly tells us at what point He became sin.
who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree (cross), that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.
1 Peter 2:24 NKJ 
So we see Jesus did not become sin as the little baby in the manger. Nor did He become sin in His earthly ministry. He became sin on the cross in redemption.

The Bible also teaches us that Jesus bore our sicknesses and was literally made sick with our sicknesses.
 He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 
  Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.
Isaiah 53:3-4 NKJV
“Griefs” is an unfortunate translation of the word in both verse four and five.  According to the Strong’s Concordance the Word “griefs” literally means “sickness”. Hebrew Scholar, Dr. Robert Young even translates it that way in his translation.
He is despised, and left of men, A man of pains, and acquainted with sickness, And as one hiding the face from us, He is despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely our sicknesses he hath borne, And our pains -- he hath carried them, And we -- we have esteemed him plagued, Smitten of God, and afflicted.
Isaiah 53 :3-4 Young’s Literal Translation
So when did Jesus become sick with our sicknesses? Did Jesus become sick as the little baby in the manger? Did Jesus become sick during His earthly ministry? Not once did Jesus turn to Peter and say, “ Peter, you need to teach for me tonight. I caught the hog flu.”  Also if you continue reading in Isaiah you find out when these events transpired.
But He was wounded for our transgressions, was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.
Isaiah 53:5 NKJV
The “stripes” spoken of in this verse speaks of the flogging Jesus received at the hands of the Roman officers. This event was not part of His normal life and ministry, but was accomplished in His redemptive work.

So if Jesus did not become sin as the little baby in the manger or in His earthly ministry, nor did he become sick at that time, why do people reason that He was born poor and remained that way throughout His earthly ministry?  I will agree that leaving heaven and coming to earth and accepting the limitations of humanity would definitely be a step down. But as I pointed out earlier, the phrase “for us” ties it to His redemptive work not His earthly life and ministry.
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
2 Corinthians 5:21 NKJV
For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
1 Corinthians 5:7 KJV
…Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8 KJV
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
Romans 8:32 KJV
Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
Galatians 3:13 KJV
We also know from the Bible that Jesus was not poor in His life and ministry because He fulfilled the law.
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.

For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.
Matthew 5:17-18 NKJV
It is true that Jesus fulfilled the righteous requirements of the law. But we forget that the book of Deuteronomy is part of the law.
“And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.
Deuteronomy 8:18 NKJV
Remember the Lord your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful, in order to fulfill the covenant he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath.
Deuteronomy 8:18 NLT
If Jesus did not get wealth, He did not fulfill the law.

Some use this passage in Luke 9 to prove that Jesus was poor.
Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.”

And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
Luke 9:57-58 NKJV
Opponents of the prosperity message say, “See there, Jesus had no place to even lay His head. He was a poor peasant.”  This is a prime example of pulling a passage out of its context to prove a point without considering the rest of the passage. Why did Jesus have no place to lay His head? Was it extreme poverty and lack? No. We get the answer only a few verses before.
Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem.
Luke 9:51-53 NKJV 
The reason Jesus had no place to rest his head is because the Samaritans refused to let Him come into town. No matter how much money you may have, if you cannot go into town you are going to be sleeping out under the stars.  Jesus was basically telling the guy who wanted to follow him, “If you follow Me, you may have to sleep out under the stars.  Because, they may not let you come into town.”

We see in John 13 that Judas carried Jesus’s money box.
For some thought, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus had said to him, “Buy those things we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor.
John 13:29 NKJV
We also see in John’s gospel that Judas was skimming off of the top and “helping himself” to some of that money.
This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it.
John 12:6 NKJV
If there was not but two dollars in the money box, and Judas stole one, don’t you think someone would have noticed it missing? Jesus had enough money in the box that Judas could steal from it and no one ever notice. Also we see from John 13:29 that the disciples were accustomed to Jesus providing for them. He had anywhere from twelve to seventy as a conservative estimate following Him at any given time. You cannot do that if you are broke.

Jesus wore a garment that was so expensive that the Roman soldiers gambled for it rather than dividing it.
They said therefore among themselves, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be,” that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says: “ They divided My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.” Therefore the soldiers did these things.
John 19:24 NKJV
Now that we have let the Bible demonstrate that Jesus became poor in redemption, I want to conclude with the passage we began with.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.
2 Corinthians 8:9 NKJV
Jesus came to the earth to demonstrate the faith life including walking in God’s provision of financial abundance.  He then suffered and died and rose from the dead to give us the legal right to walk in that same financial abundance.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.
John 14:12 NKJV
-- Rev. Travis Johnson was born again and Spirit filled in May of 1994. He accepted God's call to ministry in 1996. He graduated from Faith Bible Institute in 1997. He is recognized as an anointed Bible Teacher. His desire is to, along with other ministers of the Body of Christ, empower believers to interpret the Bible for themselves and make the Word of God applicable to be successful in day to day life. Travis currently lives in Arkansas with his wife and daughter.

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