Why was Jesus a SacrificeQUESTION: Why was Jesus a sacrifice?ANSWER:
Multiple reasons exist for Jesus Christ's sacrifice of Himself on Calvary. This answer will use the book of Hebrews to explain only a few of the major reasons why Jesus was a sacrifice.
Jesus was a sacrifice because human beings sin against God's holiness. Sin must be and is punished. There is no exception to this rule. Anyone with unforgiven sin in his life faces the horrifying prospect of eternal separation from God. No forgiveness exists unless someone capable of forgiving our sins pays the penalty of shedding his blood. Hebrews 9:22 says, "In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness."
The blood shed by bulls and goats under Moses delayed God's wrath against sin (Hebrews 9:6-10). An animal's blood had to be endlessly and repeatedly shed because it couldn't once for all remove sin (Hebrews 10:1-4, 11). Their blood could cleanse the instruments and symbols of forgiveness, but only human blood could cleanse human beings (Hebrews 9:18-23).
Christ, however, singly, solely, by himself alone had sufficient worth to die in place of every mortal in history. Everything prior to Him was preparatory to His perfect sacrifice. This is true by virtue of:
- His deity (Hebrews 1:8-9).
- His acceptance of suffering to be made perfect (Hebrews 2:10, 5:8-9).
- His personal superiority to Moses (Hebrews 3:1-6).
- His ability to provide an eternal Sabbath rest for God's people (Hebrews 4:9). God's call of Him as a priest in the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 5:1-6, 7:1-22).
- His establishment of an eternal priesthood (Hebrews 7:23-28).
- His presence at God's right hand as eternal priest, after offering a perfect sacrifice (Hebrews 1:3, 8:1-2)
- His superiority to the Aaronic priesthood of animal sacrifices (Hebrews 8:3-13).
- His ability to carry the results of his sacrifice into Heaven itself, not merely into the Holy of Holies (Hebrews 9:11-14, 23-25).
- His once-for-all-perfect sacrifice for sins (Hebrews 9:25-10:4).
- His willingness to be the sacrifice, not merely to offer one (Hebrews 10:1-10).
Jesus was a sacrifice because only His blood could roll backwards to the first sinner and forward to the last. Whatever temporary measure God used before Christ in history to secure forgiveness, He alone was eternally slain in God's mind as the perfect sacrifice for sin. That's why death exalted Jesus from being a mortal Jew, to being the universal Lord.
Jesus was a sacrifice because - when God tore the veil in two from top to bottom when Jesus died - it meant that Christ's death opened an unobstructed way to God (Matthew 27:51). Before, only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies (only once a year), and never without blood to cover his personal and national sins. Hebrews 9:7 says, "But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance."
Jesus was a sacrifice because God honored it alone - of all the sacrifices ever offered - with the victory of bodily resurrection. That single success illuminated the cross as an object of pleasure for us and victory for Christ. That's why Paul noted that Christ's death made a spectacle of all opposition to God (Colossians 2:15). The Roman conquest of Antonia fortress in late July, A.D. 70, and the entire city a month later, eliminating the daily sacrifice, made no difference whatever to God's will. No further sacrifice was needed. Christ's own perfect sacrifice forty years before not only eliminated the temple's relevance, but received God's imprimatur three days later.
That's also why we need neither trust our righteousness, nor fear our sins. Christ's resurrection guaranteed our emancipation from sin while it obligated us to his grace. Since His sacrifice was all sufficient, there is nothing we can do to deserve it. Since His resurrection verified His sacrifice's sufficiency, there is NOTHING we won't do for Him in appreciation.