A Great Sacrifice
Written by Jay Yeager
Saturday, 21 September 2013 21:29


A Great Sacrifice

(By Jay Yeager)


     The subject of this lesson is one the whole world needs to hear. The words of Jeremiah 22:29 certainly apply, “O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord”. The reason the world needs to hear of the “great sacrifice” is due to this fact; namely, the hope of heaven is genuine because of what was done for us.


     In light of the importance of this subject and a desire to do it justice, I want to divide it into three parts:

The Facts, The Reality and The Blessing of the Great Sacrifice.


The Facts

     Sin made a sacrifice necessary (Isaiah 59:1-2; Ephesians 2:1), since every accountable person has sinned (Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:23); therefore, an atonement for sin was required for every person (Hebrews 2:9). Beloved, as you know they could and did offer animal sacrifice in the Old Testament (Leviticus 16:10-11). Those sacrifices pushed their sins forward to be remembered year after year, but the blood of animals could not take away sin (Hebrews 10:3-4).


     Now having said that, blood would be absolutely required to remit sin (Hebrews 9:22). This blood would have to be pure, without spot or blemish (John 1:29; 36; I Corinthians 5:7), a willing sacrifice (John 10:18). Nothing on earth could meet these requirements, heaven would have to send this sacrifice, and God did. He sent his only begotten Son into the world (John 3:16; I John 4:9-10).


     The blood of Christ was the only blood that would bring about the redemption of man (I Peter 1:18-19). Jesus said, as he instituted the Lord’s Supper, “For this is my blood the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). The cross of Calvary would be the place where Jesus would surrender his life. From then till now every Christian glories in the cross (Galatians 6:14). Paul would echo the sentiment of us all, “I determine not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (I Corinthians 2:2). 


     Jesus knew the cross would be a magnet to draw men to him; “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32). Beloved, is that foolish? Is that weak? To the world it may be (I Corinthians 1:23), but the cursed tree, mentioned five times in the New Testament (Acts 5:30; 10:39; 13:29; Galatians 3:13; I Peter 2:24), is a tremendous part of a Christian’s faith and hope. “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (I Peter 2:24). The Hebrew writer would speak of Jesus and the cross. “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 12:2).


     These are some of the facts of the sacrifice, they are imperative that all might know what was done for us and why! “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (II Corinthians 5:21).

“…the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God…” (I Peter 3:18).


The reality

    It is wonderful to know that Jesus offered himself, one sacrifice for sins forever (Hebrews 10:12). But there is a reality involved here that we dare not miss. The road to Calvary and the death by crucifixion had to be traveled. Jesus took human form for a reason. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5-8).


     Jesus knew exactly how his life would end (Acts 2:23), and he came anyway. I know he was apprehensive as the time approached, “Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour” (John 12:27). He prayed about it (Matthew 26:36-45), then gave himself to it (Matthew 26:54).


The bitter night of his betrayal

     Two disciples follow Jesus to the high priest’s palace, John enters being known by the high priest, then returns to bring Peter in (John 18:15-16). It was cold that night (John 18:18), so Peter joins those around the fire (Luke 22:55). Now, having been told by Jesus that he would betray him three times before the cock crows (Matthew 26:34-35), words Peter denied, declaring he would willingly die with Jesus, his (no doubt) heart felt declaration would soon be put to the test. This is a part of that bitter night. Question -- would you have denied Jesus??? Peter does.

  1. “But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him. And he denied him, saying Woman, I know him not” (Luke 22:56-57).
  2. “And after a little while another saw him, and said, thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not” (Luke 22:58).
  3. “And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirming, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilean. And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:59-62).


     The scene shifts to Jesus, and the abuse of little (small minded) men. They blindfold Jesus, hit him in the face, and say unto him “Prophesy, who is it that smote thee” (Luke 22:64). The meanness of these folks is on display, with blood in their eyes, and before their council they ask Jesus this question. “Art thou the Christ? Tell us” (Luke 22:67).

     I think for honest people this question must be asked, are you the Christ, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world? Far too many folks do not seek that information. Perhaps, because the answer would lead to responsibility, “If I know, what do I do?” The old adage, “ignorance is bliss” may be true in some cases, but not in matters of forever.


     On this bitter night into a cold morning, the question is not asked to seek the truth, but as a reason to accuse. Jesus, aware of that fact, reveals what is in their hearts. “If I tell you, ye will not believe: And if I ask you, ye will not answer me, nor let me go” (Luke 22:67-68). Exposed for the frauds they were, they all said, “Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am. And they said, what need we any further witness? For we ourselves have heard of his own mouth” (Luke 22:70-71).


The trial no one believed in

     As a rule, trials are conducted that justice might be served. Not here. Justice was not the goal of this trial and every one involved knew it! The Jews resorted to false witnesses, hardly the actions of those searching for truth (Matthew 26:59-60). Pilate heard from his wife, “…Have thou nothing to do with that just man…” (Matthew 27:19), but Pilate already knew that the Jews delivered Jesus out of envy (Matthew 27:18). Hearing Jesus was from Galilee, Pilate promptly sends him to Herod (Luke 23:6-7), no doubt in an effort to extract himself from an unwelcome and unwarranted trial. Herod wanted a show; Jesus gave him silence (Isaiah 53:7-8) while the Jews hurled their accusations. In the end, Herod sends Jesus back to Pilate without any indictment, only the words recorded in inspiration; “Nothing worthy of death” (Luke 23:15).


     Beloved, the words of Herod will echo down through time, “I find no fault in this man” (Luke 23:4), but his actions, “…he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it” (Matthew 27:24), paved the way for “A Great Sacrifice” to be offered for the redemption of man (Ephesians 1:7).


The cruelty of Calvary

     The prophecy given in the Old Testament which speaks of the death of Jesus, give way to fulfillment, as Jesus endures what, until now, had only been written. Beaten and exhausted, Jesus is forced to carry the cross he will die upon (John 19:17), until either he stumbles or collapses under its weight. A by-stander by the name of Simon of Cyrene is pressed into service and compelled to bear the cross (Mark 15:21).


     The words, “…they crucified him…” (Matthew 27:35; Luke 23:33), leaves the mind of the reader to imagine the pain of having hands and feet nailed to the cross. However, any cry of anguish would have been heard that day as there was a mixed crowd that witnessed the death of our Savior.

  1. The soldiers who crucified Jesus were callous and detached, as they gambled for his garments as soon as their duty was done (Psalms 22:18; Matthew 27:35).
  2. The enemies of Jesus, satisfied for the moment, derided and mocked him (Psalms 22:7-8), “He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of the Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him” (Matthew 27:42). The ignorant and unbelieving Jews, unbeknownst to them, did speak a truth. To save others, Jesus could not save himself; he had to die (Roman 5:6; 8; 10).
  3. The centurion and those with him were indifferent, they did not hate Jesus, neither were they followers of him. But after witnessing the darkness that cover the earth (Matthew 27:45; Amos 8:9), “…the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God” (Matthew 27:54).
  4. The two thieves who were dying on either side of Jesus (Isaiah 53:12; Matthew 27:38), were there through the consequences of their own actions. Two men with vastly different attitudes. One is selfish even in death, “…if thou be Christ, save thyself and us” (Luke 23:39). The other humble and repentant. “…Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom” (Luke 23:40-42). Jesus had the power to forgive sins on earth (Matthew 9:6) and here, as elsewhere, he exercised that power. The thief hears these marvelous words, “…Today, thou shalt be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
  5. The mother of Jesus, and the other women, along with John were at the foot of the cross (John 19:25). Through their tears they would see their Lord’s agony and hear his words. Ignoring the scoffers, Jesus looks upon his mother with John standing by and secures her care. “…Woman, behold thy son!” Then to John, “…Behold thy mother!” (John 19:26-27).
  6. The other sayings of Jesus are connected to his death. “…I thirst” (John 19:28), thirst generally accompanies death, and Jesus is dying. “…My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). There is more here than quoting Psalms 22:1. The Bible teaches that God is of purer eyes than to look upon sin (Habakkuk 1:13). Jesus was made sin for us (II Corinthians 5:21), could it be that God looked away from his only begotten Son??? “…It is finished” (John 19:30), all that Jesus came to accomplish in his fleshly body was done. The pain and humiliation coming to a welcome end, Jesus said “…Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46).


     Folks, there is a reality to the sacrifice that would bring about our redemption. Someone had to walk that path that would end at Calvary and death by crucifixion. Jesus suffered death that you and I might be here this day with a hope of heaven.


The Blessings

     Through the death of Jesus at Calvary the door of heaven was truly opened for mortal man. Here is why:

  1.  From the dawn of time until it comes to an end, the sins of man can be remitted, as the blood of Christ went backward as well as forward (Hebrews 9:15; Romans 3:25; Hebrews 10:12).
  2. Barriers were broken down that separated Jew and Gentile, that both could be reconciled unto God in one body by the cross (Ephesians 2:12-16).
  3. Through obedience to the gospel of Christ, we can become the children of God (Hebrews 5:8-9; Galatians 3:26-29; II Corinthians 6:17-18).
  4. The blood of Christ purchased the church that Christians can, serve (Romans 6:16-18), worship (John 4:23-24), and glorify the God of heaven (Ephesians 3:21).


The Blessings? The short of it can be summed in these eight words, “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” (II Corinthians 9:15).