Day 26: What is a sacrifice?
And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.” Luke 23:35-38
The Jews were looking for their messiah. They thought He would be a king or a general or a political leader who would free them from the Roman Empire. So even though many of them saw or knew about Jesus’ preaching and miracles, few thought He was the Messiah. They didn’t realize that the Messiah came to serve, not to be served.
Jesus came to be a sacrifice, and the people who wanted Him crucified mocked Him for it. They said, “He saved others, He could save Himself.” Indeed, He could have, but that was not His purpose. From the sacrifices God commanded in the Old testament, the Jews would have known that a sacrifice was a substitute. They gave their crops and livestock to God as a substitute for giving their own lives as payment for their sins. They were required to give the best they had. Now Jesus, who was not just the best, but perfectly sinless, was giving up His life as the ultimate sacrifice for sins.
In the Old Testament, God commanded the Israelites to make burnt offerings for the forgiveness of sins. The animal they sacrificed would be completely burned up on the office, so there was nothing left. Other types of sacrifices (peace offerings and thanksgiving offerings, for example), would be donated to the priests, but the offerings for atonement belonged only to God.
Likewise, Jesus’ sacrifice could not be only symbolic. He actually died for our sins, and even suffered torture and ridicule along with it. They called Him King of the Jews, not realizing that His sacrificial death was the very thing that marked Him as the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Servant-King
Questions for reflection and discussion
- Why didn’t the Jews or Romans realize who Jesus was?
- Do you think you would have know?
Dear God, the things You do are not always the way we would do them. Help us recognize Your plan when it isn’t like ours. In Jesus’ name, amen.