What is Sacrifice?


Jesus is our High Priest who “gets us.”  He became flesh and blood to dwell among us. He experienced the confines and weaknesses of being human. It really is beautiful.

I mean…think about it…if I were the creator of a new breed of insect and I loved that breed above all others, and wanted that breed to be able to enjoy me too…but the bugs were just not able to obey my laws as ruler over them…Would I be willing to become a bug in order to have fellowship? Wouldn’t it be a huge sacrifice on my part to leave my comfortable suburban lifestyle to live among the bugs? (I know it’s a pathetic analogy, but work with me here.)

To leave the splendor of heaven,
The cosmos moving at your every whim,
Speak and new worlds come into existence,
Angels singing praises of your awesome beauty,
So magnificent is your glory,
The beings in heaven hide their faces in worship…

The words are too inadequate to express what it must have been to leave the heavenlies and become one of us.   Yet, He sacrificed it all to experience life among us – to feel the limitations of being human. And then, to endure the worst torture man could know…I call that sacrifice. For me that would be enough of a sacrifice to endure, but it’s still not the point at which He suffered the most.  He cried, “My God, my God why have You forsaken Me!” That was the greatest sacrifice Jesus would endure – to be separated from His Father for something He did not do.

He did not sin…not once…not ever. He led the perfect, sinless life as a human being, confined to the flesh, relying upon the Holy Spirit. He did not know what it was to live with a guilty conscience, to endure the pain of separation from His loving Father, until that moment. He became sin on our behalf so that we might become righteous, in Him.

At that moment, when God the Father laid all the sins of the world, past, present, and future upon His head…

He became our scapegoat.

He became our burnt offering.

He became our Passover Lamb Who takes away the sins of the world.

Praise to the Lamb Who was worthy to be slain!

Hosanna! Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord!


17 responses »

  1. Yeah, the story is 2000 years old, and yet so many people want to brush it aside as though it were a fable. I was on another blog this week debating the question, what did Jesus really sacrifice? It seems to me an arrogant question. He gave up everything to reconcile us to the Father. I’m continually amazed at the story.

    “do realize we both started our blogs during the same month”

    To quote a fellow blogger, “God has mad networking skills.” I think He’s in the coincidences. 😉

  2. Hi Michelle,

    I think the question (What did Jesus really sacrifice?) is more dispassionate than arrogant. We humans are very good at being dispassionate or emotionally detached from other peoples pain and suffering. I think that is the sinful, fallen nature of us. There is a lot of pain and suffering on the “broad” road so I think dispassionate, disconnected responses to everyone including Jesus, is a defense mechanism.

    This is sounding like I’m correcting and I really didn’t want that… I’m attempting to add some more to the sketch of what a person’s heart must look like to pose such a question. So, yes it is arrogance too. I think the chest pounding and “big” worded intellectual arguments use arrogance as yet another defense.

    Inside us all is a broken heart. We can ask the great physician to replace it or we can hide it behind multiple de-fences.

    Oh and the insect example I first heard from Billy Graham. I think he used ants in his example. But is is such an often used and reasonable example that I suspect he heard it from some before as well. It is actually a very good analogy because no sane rational person would volunteer to sacrifice any of their human existence to merely help out creatures significantly less significant than themselves. There would be nothing in it for us. It would be 100% selfless. A lot of crazies would line up but I’m excluding them from this dicussion.

    Your love for the Lord shines here and, I suspect in your life as well.

  3. Now that I’ve read your comment…

    I agree about the defense mechanisms. I tend to believe those who won’t see God through Jesus (excluding atheists who do not see God at all) do not want to admit their need for a Savior. To come to the conclusion that we are just “ants” in comparison to the “Holy Other”, would be to admit our seeming insignificance. The thought that He came for such a “worm as I” is seen as poor self-esteem, instead of the comparison of our filthiness to His holiness.

    Thank you for your comments and kind words. I will regularly check spam to see if you have been banished again. I hope you will not be offended and come back often to comment. 😉

  4. No problem Michelle. There must have been a very bad Ric Booth in the past who has messed up things for the rest of us 😉 I’ve reported it and things seem to be improving. A lot less spam lately… Now hopefully this comment won’t go to spam since I just typed that! 😀

  5. I often ask myself a similar question question – What was the sacrifice? I know the story from Christmas to Easter and I’m constantly reminded of the ‘sacrifice’ Jesus made for my sins. I know it definitely has to be ‘a sacrifice’ for Jesus to leave his heavenly throne and fellowship with us in flesh. Is this ‘the sacrifice’? If so, how does this account for the forgiveness of sins?

    If no, is the crucifixion ‘the sacrifice’? Why did Jesus have to endure so much suffering, which ended in death, in order for my sins (and the sins of the world) to be forgiven?

    How does the sacrifice for sins work? What part does blood play in sacrifice for sin?
    And lastly, why is it necessary to have a blood sacrifice for sins to be forgiven?

    Hope you ca help me on my quest.

    Thank you.

  6. Hello, Anthony.

    You ask the most important questions of all. Questions many of us have grown up not thinking much about; we say the words but don’t know what it all means. Hope you’re in for some reading, this is LONG!

    At this point in time, so far removed from the sacrificial system that existed before 70 AD, the concept of blood covenants is foreign to us. We write legal contracts and sign on the dotted line. Not so in the ancient world. Blood covenants were the way they “sealed the deal”. We see glimpses of this ancient contract when we shake hands in agreement, eat a meal together after a wedding, or write out the words of a contract. But in the ancient world they “cut” a covenant, they shed blood.

    I don’t know you or your background so please don’t think I’m patronizing you, that is not at all my intent. I’m going to start at the beginning with Adam and Eve. After they sinned they were covered by animal skins, the first shedding of blood in scripture. Before they had sinned they were naked and not ashamed, but after they had disobeyed God, they knew they were naked. Shame entered the picture and so they tried to cover themselves with fig leaves. God sheds blood to make garments of skin to cover their nakedness, then sends them out of the Garden. (Gen.3:21-24)

    Next we see Cain and Abel, their sons, bringing sacrifices to God. Cain brought a sacrifice of the fruit of the ground and Abel brought an animal sacrifice. God had no regard for Cain’s offering but was pleased with Abel’s offering, the best of his flocks sacrificed. The word for “regard” in Hebrew means “to gaze at, to have regard for, to look on with favor [or “with devotion”].” This was a designated time for offering to the Lord and somehow the brothers knew which offering the Lord preferred. A consuming fire? An inner awareness? A word of favor? Somehow they knew there was one way to approach God, Cain came with the work of his hands, but Abel came in faith. (Gen 4:3-5; Heb 11:4)

    We often tell the story of Noah and the ark counting the numbers of animals two-by-two, but reading carefully you’ll see that the “clean” animals, the animals used for sacrifice, were numbered by sevens (seven pairs). After God delivered Noah and his family, he immediately sacrifices of every clean animal and clean bird a burnt offering to the Lord. Again we see God being pleased with the sacrifice, it is a soothing aroma. (Gen 7:1-5; 8:20)

    This begs the question, did they come up with this idea to sacrifice or did God demonstrate and teach the proper way to approach Him? We see man sacrificing to God from Adam to Noah (about 1000 years) and God is pleased with the sacrifice of the choicest of the clean animals.

    1000 years later we meet Abram, the man God calls to be the father of the Jewish people, God will later change his name to Abraham. In the course of their encounters and God’s promises to him, God tells Abram to gather together clean animals and to cut them in two. God speaks to Abram about all His promises and as darkness fell “a smoking oven and a flaming torch” passed through the pieces of flesh. The Scriptures tell us,”On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram.”

    Berith, the Hebrew word for covenant, is a solemn binding agreement made by passing through pieces of flesh. The Greek word for covenant, diatheke, means a testament or an agreement. The Bible is divided into the Old and New Testaments — or covenants. Everything God does is based on covenant and a sacrifice is involved to “seal the deal”.

    It’s not until Exodus and the story of Moses that we see an intricate sacrificial system being set in place with all the rules and regulations of worship. We know from the stories that the Hebrews continued to sacrifice to the LORD, but an explanation is not given as to “why” blood is necessary until Leviticus. In the books of the Law (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) are these stories I’ve told (and many more) and the terms of the covenant God set up with His people, the Jews. It is based upon the sacrificial system of offering a soothing aroma, the choicest of the flocks, given in obedience and faith that God will accept the death, the blood spilled, for the sins committed by the people. It is an horrific picture of what sin has caused…death. And a picture of God still providing a way for His people to approach Him, covered by the blood of a lamb.

    He set up the system from the beginning, but with the foreknowledge that when the time is right, the final Lamb of God would come and make a complete satisfaction, a perfect offering of Himself, the sinless Lamb of God, as a covering for all the sins of mankind. So that those who are far off, the Gentiles (that’s anyone who is not Jewish) may come near to God as well.

    So here is “the why”, the reason blood must be shed…

    I’m giving you a variety of versions so you can see they say the same thing. The life is in the blood and in the blood is the atonement for our lives. Sin causes death…instead of us dying for our sins…an animal takes our place, is a substitute, is our covering for the sins we commit.

    NET Bible (online Bible Gateway)
    for the life of every living thing is in the blood. So I myself have assigned it to you on the altar to make atonement for your lives, for the blood makes atonement by means of the life.

    New International Version
    Lev 17:11
    For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.

    New American Standard Bible
    Lev 17:11
    ‘For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.

    But in the Old Covenant this was a temporary covering. Animals were sacrificed daily and only once a year could you be completely forgiven on the Day of Atonement when the blood was taken into the Holy of Holies and placed on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant. But Christ made the final sacrifice through His blood poured out for us on the cross. He became the final, perfect, holy Lamb of God so we could ALL be forgiven. When He cried out, “It is finished!” He declared the end of the system of sacrifices. Now through faith in His offering of blood for our sins, we can come close to God and have fellowship.

    For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him, will not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

    New International Version
    Eph 1:7
    In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace

    New American Standard Bible
    Eph 1:7
    In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace

    New Living Translation
    Eph 1:7
    He is so rich in kindness that He purchased our freedom through the blood of his Son, and our sins are forgiven.

    The Message (a paraphrase – it’s really good)
    Eph 1:7
    Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people–free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. [Abundantly] free!

    Man! That was a LOT! I hope I’ve helped…I wasn’t sure how else to get the point across. It is at least a 6000 year old story, maybe more, and it took 66 books to get it all said, so I know I haven’t done an exhaustive job by a long shot, but hopefully it will give you enough to go on. I would prefer a dialogue…hope you’ll continue to ask questions. I don’t have all the answers, but I will share what I have learned from my studies.

    This link may help too:


  7. I found it! Wonderful response Michelle! I admire your knowledge and wisdom concerning the Word SO much. You inspire me!!! XOX

  8. You found it! I was just answering your question…thanks! You’re an inspiration to me as well – I hope you know that! ♥ U

  9. Just read over it again and it just touched my heart. What a humble reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice! And it is very difficult to verbalize this sacrifice when our understanding comes from the spirit. Praise God for scripture that confirms God’s truth and I admire you so much for always applying it with relevance and in love. God bless you!!! Love you too….I am still working on the icons/smilies LOL

  10. Hi Michelle,
    Thank you very much for the time you have invested in your answer and for your answer itself. It makes a lot of sense to me.

    I hope you didn’t view me as a nonbeliever, as i feel most people in the church interpret my questions as disbelief. I am a very strong believer by faith, but like many others, I have tonnes of questions. I believe most of my questions can be answered but surprisingly I find that many people don’t understand certain key elements that our faith is based on – for instance, What is the sacrifice? So, I really appreciate your answer above. The reason I want to know is so I can share with others, I cannot explain something to others if I myself do not understand it. And I don’t not believe it is enough to say to an unbeliever ” Just believe it by faith” (this may be someone with non or very little faith in God).

    I may be bothering you with a lot more questions now!!

    I am glad you mentioned Eph 1:7 (NLT) “He purchased our freedom…..”
    I ponder every time I hear people say that. Is the word ‘purchase’ to be taken literally here?
    If so, is it suggesting the we, or our freedom, belonged to the devil because of sin (which is death) and was purchased by Christ through the sacrifice (thereby giving us life)?

    I look forward hearing from you.

    Thanks again. May God bless you.


  11. Hey, Anthony! I’m so glad my response was helpful. I love this type of exchange – digging into the meaning of the words is food for my soul. 🙂

    I had a feeling you were a believer, just needing some clarification of terms. It is confusing when we use a language so foreign to us. As CS Lewis said when he began studying Greek as a teenager, the language is so full of meaning and pictures. For us English speaking peoples, we lose the pictures involved when we only read the Scriptures from our ‘barbaric’ language.

    This is a perfect example. The term used in the NLT for “purchase” is not as clear as the other translations which use the word “redemption”. In Greek it is a compound of the words:

    apo – separation, any kind of separation of one thing from another by which the union or fellowship of the two is destroyed

    lutron – the price for redeeming, ransom; paid for slaves, captives; for the ransom of life; to liberate many from misery and the penalty of their sins.

    So the word becomes:

    apolutrosis (Noun)
    “a releasing, for (i.e., on payment of) a ransom.”

    It is used of:

    (a) “deliverance” from physical torture, Heb. 11:35, see DELIVER, B, No. 1;

    (b) the deliverance of the people of God at the coming of Christ with His glorified saints, “in a cloud with power and great glory,” Lu. 21:28, a “redemption” to be accomplished at the “outshining of His Parousia,” 2Th. 2:8, i.e., at His second advent;

    (c) forgiveness and justification, “redemption” as the result of expiation, deliverance from the guilt of sins, Ro. 3:24, “through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus;” Eph. 1:7, defined as “the forgiveness of our trespasses,” RV; so Col. 1:14, “the forgiveness of our sins,” indicating both the liberation from the guilt and doom of sin and the introduction into a life of liberty, “newness of life” ( Ro. 6:4); Heb. 9:15, “for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant,” RV, here “redemption of” is equivalent to “redemption from,” the genitive case being used of the object from which the “redemption” is effected, not from the consequence of the transgressions, but from the trangressions themselves;

    (d) the deliverance of the believer from the presence and power of sin, and of his body from bondage to corruption, at the coming (the Parousia in its inception) of the Lord Jesus, Ro. 8:23; 1Co. 1:30; Eph. 1:14; 4:30.

    See also PROPITIATION.
    (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words)

    Notice the definition for (c) is the one used in Ephesians I:7. It is deliverance from the debt of our sin. We commit sin because it is our nature, it’s who we are without Christ in our lives. We’ve been redeemed from the law of sin and death. We deserve death, but our life has been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.

    For He delivered us from the domain (authority) of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. ~Col. 1:13-14.

    in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. ~2Cor. 4:4

    There is something here about the “god of this world”…the ruler of this age seems to be over this kingdom of darkness…but we have been redeemed and are no longer under his realm. We were slaves to sin, held captive but we have been given our freedom! We have been redeemed to walk in “newness of life”…we have the power that raised Christ from the dead abiding in us. Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!!!

    TMI? I hope not, thanks again for asking, Anthony. This has been fun for me. 😉

    Blessings to you ~Michelle.

  12. Hi Michelle,
    Thanks again for your answer! I apologize for not replying sooner. Information is never too much when it comes to biblical knowledge, in fact, the more I get the more I want.

    I read your reply as soon as it was posted but did not get a chance to respond. I am preparing for exam and have been very busy lately.

    A little about myself:
    I’m 29 yrs old, married for two years and live in Barbados, W. I.
    No children as yet but hopefully in a year or two we would start to extend our family. We attend a Nazarene church but I am not big denominational factors – I just like to say I am a Christian.

    Thanks again for your time and interest, look out for me again after June 11.

    God bless you.


  13. Beautiful explanation here of what our sweet JESUS did for us, Michelle ~ “How deep the Father’s love for us!/How vast…” (and… I should’ve known that you sleep with a Vine’s under your pillow… :wink:)

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