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Wednesday, March 09, 2016

What's My Motivation?

An actor playing a part will often ask, "What's my motivation?" in order to get into the role. What was Jesus's motivation to get into His role?

I recently was at a David Jeremiah event with Michael W. Smith as a special performer. Now, Michael is a contemporary. I grew up with his music. And seems like a really nice guy. I mean, I'm not trying to cast any aspersions on the man.

One song he sang that had people on their feet in tears was his popular Above All. Pretty good song, actually. The chorus ends with
Like a Rose trampled on the ground
You took the fall
And thought of me
Above all
Really chokes you up, you know? In the last couple weeks a teacher at church had a similar response. He had to stop as he expressed and contemplated that "The Pearl of Great Price" (Matt 13:45-46) is a parable of how Christ valued us so much that He gave all to gain us. Really gets you right in the heart. That He would hold me, a sinner, in such high regard.

But ... you know me. I had to ask, "Is that true?" Was Jesus's highest motivation His love for me?

Jesus Himself expressed many things about His own stated purposes.
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." (Matt 5:17)

"Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword." (Matt 10:34)

"I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance." (Luke 5:32)

"I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. (John 6:38)

"I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me." (John 8:42)

"I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness." (John 12:46)

"For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth." (John 18:37)

"The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." (Luke 19:10)
We grab onto that last one and think, "That's it! He came to seek and to save ... me!" In fact, to deny that would be to deny Jesus's own words. He did come for that. He said so. "I lay down My life for the sheep," He said (John 10:15). No denying it. But was that His "above all" motivation?

I don't think so. He said to His Father, "I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do." (John 17:4) Even in the garden, with His crucifixion pending, He prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will." (Matt 26:39) Jesus's prime purpose in His life, in His ministry, and even in His death was that His Father would be glorified.

Paul points this out in that glorious text in Ephesians that begins, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." (Eph 1:3-14) Over and over in that passage he repeats the reason for the blessings that we have been given ... and it's not us. It's Him. "To the praise of the glory of His grace" (Eph 1:6). "To the praise of His glory" (Eph 1:12). "To the praise of His glory" (Eph 1:14). Do you see a theme?

Jesus did indeed "take the fall" for us. He did, in fact, come to seek and to save the lost. He did come as an act of love (John 3:16). No doubt. But it is a mistake to think that we are "above all", some "pearl of great price", that we are His primary concern. His primary concern was what ours should be -- the glory of God. He took the fall and thought of God's glory above all. "What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory." (Rom 9:22-23) Now that chokes me up.


David said...

His primary goal send to have been to demonstrate His glory, and we were simply a means to that end. I'm happy to be a part of that means, and it feels blasphemous to try to reverse the order.

Stan said...

"Feels" blasphemous? Rest assured, it is.

David said...

Sometimes, sometimes, feeling and truth agree.