< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: Jesus, The Final Sacrifice

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Jesus, The Final Sacrifice

There are 350 references to blood in the Bible. There are almost 300 uses for the word sacrifice. Blood sacrifice is central in God’s plan to forgive His people for their sins. All of this points to the final sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

At the very beginning God had perfect fellowship with Adam and Eve. He gave them only one boundary: do not eat the fruit of one specific tree in the garden. He told them if they ate this fruit, they would die. This is important – the wages of sin is death.

They didn’t need to eat the fruit. Everything they needed was provided for them. But they did, and then were embarrassed when they looked at each other and realized they were naked. And the sin changed their relationship with God too. When He came into the garden, instead of running to Him, they hid.

God slaughtered innocent animals to make clothing to cover their nakedness and shame. Adam and Eve had never seen death before this. Never seen blood. This was a foreshadowing of an innocent third party killed for someone else. They saw that sin was very serious. Sin is a violation of the holiness of God.

The Jews made all kinds of sacrifices over and over and over.

Even pagan people used animal sacrifices to placate an angry god. They figured if they did something bad and a god had any concern for what was right or just, that sooner or later they were going to get in trouble for what they had done. To stop the god from being angry with them they decided they needed to offer him or her a sacrifice. If it was a small sin, it would be a small sacrifice. If it was a big sin it would be a big sacrifice.

So ancient religions understood sacrifice. Later they should have been able to understand the concept of Jesus as a sacrifice when it was presented to them.
But in pagan rituals, sacrifices were made by the people trying to placate a god and this was their error. In Christianity it is never the people who take the initiative or make the sacrifice. It is God who makes the way by which His wrath may be averted. And He did it because He loves us so much. “For God SO LOVED the world, that He gave His only begotten Son.”

What trips people up in understanding this, is it’s not the act (the sacrifice) that wipes out our sins. It’s the fact that God said that the act would do this and we BELIEVE Him.

We were told about the perfect sacrifice in Isaiah 53:1-7. The sacrifice would not be a lamb, but a person. And he would free people from their sins and save them from judgment. Hundreds of years later when John the Baptist saw Jesus in the crowd, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” He was telling us that Jesus is the ultimate Lamb, the innocent third party who would shed His blood as the payment for sinful people.

Jesus’ crucifixion was no accident. It was planned since the beginning of time. He went willingly. And He did it for us. He paid a great price. Anytime we think we have to do something to get saved, we take away from what Jesus did.

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