For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9
"Mommy, why didn't Jesus have a crib?" asked my daughter just the other day.
She asked it from the confines of her own warm and comfy bed, where she was resting on two pillows and covered with several blankets, most of them made with love by family and friends.
We'd been singing Christmas carols, and she'd clued into the line from "Away in a Manger" -- "No crib for a bed/The little Lord Jesus/lay down his sweet head..."
"Well," I said slowly. "Mary and Joseph, Jesus' Mommy and Daddy, were very poor. And remember they were travelling and couldn't find any room in the inn the night Jesus was born. So Jesus was born in a stable, and there aren't any cribs in a stable. That's why they used a manger for his bed. A manger is like a wooden box for animal food. Mary and Joseph filled it with hay and used that for Jesus' bed."
"But why were they poor?" she persisted.
A good question. From any perspective, not just the perspective of a four year old who has been learning, her whole young life, that Jesus is God's Son, the King of the world, the "King of everything!" (as she likes to say).
I can't recall exactly how I answered the question right now. But I've been reflecting on it since, and it seems to me the best answer comes in 2 Corinthians. Jesus willingly gave up glory to come live here, and to live as a poor man who would grow up to still have no place to lay his head.
Jesus chose to come in the time and place and way he did. God the Father could have sent him to a different kind of family. But he gave him to Mary and Joseph, a young lady and her espoused husband, a carpenter, from a small, rural village. A young exhausted couple that couldn't find a bed for him the night he was born, so managed with what they had.
He was rich, but for our sakes he became poor. For our sakes.