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Motives of Jesus Galatians 1:3-5

Jan 30, 2010

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Galatians 1:3-5

“The Motives of Jesus”


 A number of you did Alison and me the kindness of taking note of our anniversary this past Thursday.  Most of you know that we are still newlyweds.  This was only our fourth.  I have been saying that I made it through my first term.  I’m very glad there are no term limits.

 One the many wonderful things about being married, especially being married to a godly person, is that you get to know her heart.  You fall in love with her because of what you see about her heart, but you get to know her heart better over the years.  Next week you will all meet my father.  He is alone now, and we are very glad that he is moving to Fresno to live near us.  He and my mother were married for 56 years.   When you are with someone that long, from when she is 21 until a week before she would have turned 78, you get to know what she loves, what she prizes, what she loathes, what she lives for, and why she does what she does.  You get to know her heart.


Some of you have been living with Jesus Christ as your Savior for more than a half century.  Some of you have been believers for only a few years, but you have known Him long enough that you should know what He is about.  But do you, really?  Do you know what motivates Him? Do you know His heart?


The Apostle Paul writes a very distressed letter to the churches in the province of Galatia.  He is upset because they have been listening to people who have been telling them that they need to put their faith in something else – in their observance of religious ceremonies and customs, in something they can do – in addition to trusting Jesus Christ and His free mercy.  The problem is that these people do not understand the heart of Jesus.  They know that Jesus came from God, and that He lived a perfect life and taught and did miracles, and that He died on a cross and rose from the dead.  But they do not know what motivated Him.  They do not know what His purpose was.  And because they do not know His heart, they are having a hard time trusting Him.  So before he deals with their issue, he tells them about the motives, the heart of Jesus.


If you are having a hard time trusting Jesus today, whether you are just learning about Him or whether you have known Him for 50 years, it is because you do not know His heart.


The heart of Jesus is revealed to us in verse 4, which tells us the reason why Jesus went to the cross.  Let’s read that verse again. Referring to Jesus:

…who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father


He gave himself

It cannot be said enough:  Jesus came to give Himself.  Jesus is the greatest Giver in the universe.  The great evangelist of students, Josh McDowell, once wrote a book called Givers, Takers, and Other Kinds of Lovers .  The point of the title is that some people say “I love you” when all they really mean is that they want to take something from you.  Jesus taught us that we should give to people who will never be able to pay us back.  He taught that because that is what He has done.  He gives to us when we are trapped in prisons of our own making and stuck in messes we created out of our rebellion, selfishness, and unbelief.  


Jesus gives a lot of wonderful gifts to us.  But the greatest gift He gives is Himself.  This is perhaps the most repeated and the least believed statement Christian preachers and teachers make.  You have heard it so much you are almost bored.  But the sad fact is that you and I do not always live or even pray as if we believe it.  We value all the other things that God has given us – our lives, our liberty, our happiness, our families, even the food on our tables and the roofs over our head.  We appreciate it when God gives us peace of mind and comfort in our souls, and we want more of that – in fact we come to church largely to seek more spiritual blessings. But we are often not that thrilled with the awesome gift Christ has already given us, His own life laid down for us, His Holy Spirit living in our hearts, His Father adopting us as His children, and His promise that very soon we will start spending an eternity with Him, because He gave Himself for us.  Pastor John Piper has written often that God is most glorified in His people when they are most satisfied in Him.


But this phrase does not refer mainly to Christ giving Himself to us to be our Friend or even our Lord.  It refers to His giving of His life – His human life – in death – as a sacrifice.  He told His disciples that they should be servants to one another

… even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."  (Matthew 20:28 ESV)

For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father."  (John 10:17-18 ESV)

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  (Ephesians 5:2 ESV)

… how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.  (Hebrews 9:14 ESV)

Why does the blood of Christ purify our consciences?  Because His sacrifice of Himself removes our guilt before God.

He gave himself for our sins.

Some of the plainest truths of the Bible are in danger of being forgotten.  This has been the case throughout Christian history.  For hundreds of years the organized church deemphasized and finally forgot the truth that we are saved through faith alone in Christ alone – the basic teaching of the Letter to the Galatians.  Now we are living in a world in which the greatest need of mankind, which is the removal of the horrible guilt of our sin before God, is being played down even by conservative churches and ministries.  It is not popular in our culture of public relations and telling people what they want to hear to mention, much less shout from the housetops, that the problem we humans have is not that we are misunderstood or codependent – our problem is not the government or the economy or how hard it is to raise kids in the digital age – our problem is that we are sinners.

Jesus did not come to give himself so that we nice people could become a little nicer. He did not come to give himself for our earthly happiness, our self-esteem or lack of it, our loneliness, or our depression.  He did not come to give himself so that our political situation or even our public morality could be improved, so that the bad people who annoy us good people could be straightened out.  Jesus came to give himself as a ransom for our sins.

… for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.  (Matthew 26:28 ESV)

John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.  (Revelation 1:4-6 ESV)

 … to deliver us from the present evil age (…ek tou aiwnoV tou enestwtoV ponhrou) ...

Do not be conformed to this world (tw aiwni toutw), but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2 ESV)

  1. (2 Corinthians 4:4 ESV)

in which you once walked, following the course of this world (kata ton aiwna tou

kosmou toutou) , following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience--  (Ephesians 2:2 ESV)

… who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:14 ESV)


… according to the will of our God and Father…

Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, "My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done."  (Matthew 26:42 ESV)

I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.  (John 5:30 ESV)

  1. (John 6:38 ESV)

Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, "Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; (6) in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.  (7) Then I said, 'Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.'"  ….(10)  And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.  (Hebrews 10:5-7, 10 ESV)