Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
I arrived in my classroom one morning this week to find half a packet of digestive biscuits on my desk. When I say ‘half a packet’, it was one of those individual packs of biscuits you get with two or three biscuits. The packet had been opened and inside were the crushed remains of perhaps one and a half biscuits. Attached to the wrapper was a Post-It note with the words, “Dear Mr Lucas, hope your tumtum hungiveeeee so I got beesceets for yoooooo. Lucy wucy, Mehmeh & Aleh.”
Probably the quirkiest gift I’ve received, if not the most generous!
The most generous gift I have received is actually referenced in the verses above, a blessing to the people of Galatia from Paul. In this blessing, Paul wishes his readers “grace and peace” from “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,” before explaining just who this Jesus guy is.
The Lord Jesus Christ, Paul says, “gave himself for our sins.” Paul reminds us of some important truths right from the start of this letter. He tells us that we are all sinners. We have all done wrong in our lives that has led us away from God and his perfect creation. We deserve to be punished for our wrongdoing. But Jesus “gave himself” to pay the price of our sin. He freely went to the cross, knowing full well the pain that he would bear there. He did so willingly, though, so that you and I could be cleansed of our sin and find favour with God.
Jesus went to the cross “to rescue us from the present evil age.” He could have chosen not to go to the cross but he did. He could have allowed us to wallow in sin with no possible means of escaping from a bleak, lonely, depressing and futile future ending in death. He chose not to, though. His death and resurrection have provided us with a rescue boat to pull us from a pointless and dark existence and carry us on to an eternity with God in a new creation free of sin, fear, illness and death.
Paul adds that Jesus’ death was “according to the will of our God and Father.” The death of Christ was no accident, but a planned and desired action by God to send his son to live amongst his people, to teach his people, to serve his people, and ultimately to die for his people. We by no means deserve salvation and God could have turned his back on us once sin had entered the world. In an incredible act of love, however, he willed the death of his only son so that we might be saved.
What an incredible message we find lurking in just these few verses! God has given us an incredible gift in his son and it is only right and proper that we strive to honour and to serve him in all that we do. Perhaps too we should consider our own generosity to those around us. If God gave his son to save us, maybe we should be more willing to spend time loving and serving those around us.