Day 11: Sacrifice
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
“So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many” (Hebrews 9:28).
After the resurrection (once it became clear that Jesus had come to be the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of the world, reconciling those who would believe in Him to God), the light bulbs must have started going on all over the place for the disciples. Suddenly all of the sacrifices of their religious heritage took on new meaning, and they would have begun to see them as types of their beloved Lord—dim outlines of the true sacrifice to come.
They would have seen the brazen altar, standing in the court of the temple, as a reminder of the necessity of the giving of a life for the forgiveness of sin; the shedding of blood as the only way into the presence of a holy God. They would have remembered all the animals which had been slaughtered there, and yet, day after day, new sacrifices would have been required. All that blood could not do the job; only through the blood of Christ was that sacrifice complete and acceptable. The author of Hebrews tells us, “The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming…For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Heb. 10:1-4).
Warren Wiersbe tells us that, “The Old Testament animal sacrifices were imperfect, serving to cover up sins rather than wash them away. That is why they had to be repeated day after day and year after year. By itself, the bringing of sacrifices could never save the sinner.” So, while these sacrifices pointed to Christ, they also pointed to the fact that they were inadequate for what was truly needed. Therefore, when the true fulfillment came along, it was evident that He is adequate—His sacrifice sufficed, once for all.
• For what reasons do you think God instituted the sacrificial system?
• What role did faith play in that system?
• What lessons from that system can you apply to your understanding of Christ’s sacrifice for you? (i.e., the grossness of that much blood, the identification with the sacrifice, the innocent suffering for the guilty…) How can applying these deepen your understanding and worship?
Lord, rivers of blood cannot suffice for my sin, yet I am so grateful that Your sacrifice is sufficient for me eternally. As the ancient worshipper placed his hand on the sacrifice to identify with the innocent animal about to give its life for the sinner, I identify with You, the innocent One who gave Your life for me.
by Sheri Cook, Director of Special Ministries
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