Author Tracey Smith, writing in the Seeds of the Kingdom website, penned an article entitled, “How Would You Define Sacrifice?” Taking as her starting point, the verse by the apostle Peter in his first letter (chapter one, verse three), which reads, “Praise be to the God and Father our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”, Smith explores what is means to sacrifice, particularly in the context of the “Passion Week” of Jesus in which we observe and celebrate the willing sacrifice of himself which Jesus did for us on Good Friday. In her article, Smith writes the following:
“Professor Google” gives three definitions of the word sacrifice. The first two are these: 1. an act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy, and 2. an act of slaughtering an animal or person as an offering to a deity. But it is the third definition that resonates with me: Christ’s offering Himself in the crucifixion. That is what Easter is all about.
Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself for us. When we hear of someone laying down their life for others, such as a soldier may do, it is often called the ultimate sacrifice. Is there a bigger sacrifice a human being can make? But in Christ’s case, it was not just a human being making that choice. It was God.
So, how does God die? He becomes a man, so that He is able to die.
There are many other belief systems and faiths in our world, but you won’t find any one of them where the one being worshipped does the dying for his followers. Jesus chose to become fully man for us. It was God making Himself a human being, which meant He could feel everything you or I can feel. Just imagine the torture – body, soul and spirit – that He endured at the crucifixion!
But He chose to do it anyway. I wonder sometimes how that feels when what seems to follow is an endless succession of ungrateful generations. He sacrificed Himself, knowing that many would still turn away, shun life, and choose death.
When you accept Jesus Christ, His sacrifice saves your life, both in the here and now and into eternity. You don’t have to perform rituals, jump through hoops, sacrifice animals, wash yourself first, or go through a priest to confess your sins. You can just open your mouth and speak to your heavenly Dad. You can receive His reassurance, find refuge under His wings, cry to Him when you’re hurting, be forgiven when you’ve messed up, get peace when all around is madness, shout when there’s anger, injustice, and pain, confess when there’s sin.
The fruit of the sacrifice Jesus made for you is your acceptance of Him and the ongoing relationship with God He opened up for you. It’s Easter, every day! (Sometimes, it’s even minute by minute).
Easter is the gift that keeps on giving. Can you get your head around it?
Don’t try. Just live it.
Prayer: Father, thank You for the ultimate sacrifice You made so I might be set free and follow You into eternity. May Your sacrifice always be at the forefront of my mind, and not just at Easter. In Jesus’ name, Amen.