The idea of sacrifice is found throughout the Bible from its beginning to its end. God clothed Adam and Eve to cover their nakedness with coats of skins [1]. This indicates animal sacrifice. In the Book of Revelation, the saints sing their grateful thanks for the sacrifice of Christ:

“for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” (5:9).

The reason for sacrifice

The Bible tells us why sacrifice is necessary. [2] Man has sinned and the forfeiting of life shows man what sin deserves. Sin also separates us from God. When animals were sacrificed in the past under the Law of Moses, the shedding of their blood was accepted by God as the way people could be forgiven their sins and they could come closer to him. [3]

Much later, Christ’s sacrifice not only declared the righteousness, grace and forebearance of God [4] , it also “condemned sin in the flesh” [5], something that the sacrifices under the Law could not do.

“The blood of Jesus Christ . . . cleanseth us from all sin” (1 Jno. 1:7).
“Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (Jno. 1:29 )

But, God was able to raise Jesus from the dead because he did not sin. He did receive the “wages of sin” – death – when he died as a sacrifice for sin, but only because he was descended from Adam. [6] Biological science confirms that death is programmed into our human DNA.

God’s righteousness upheld in Jesus’ life

For the sacrifice of Christ to be acceptable, Jesus had to live a sinless life. This was shown, for example, in the following:

  • His baptism “to fulfil all righteousness” [7]
  • His temptation, in which he repudiated the suggestions that appealed to his human nature [8]
  • His rejection of Peter’s suggestion that he should not go up to Jerusalem and be killed [9]
  • His anguish as he contemplated his approaching death [10]
  • His reply to the young ruler, in which he repulsed the suggestion that there was any good in human nature and instead directed attention to his Father alone as the source of all good [11] .

God’s righteousness upheld in Jesus’s perfect sacrifice

Animals have nothing to do with man’s weakness and sin. They cannot be tempted as we are and so they cannot take away sin. God wanted, as a sacrifice, a representative man of spotless character, to declare and uphold His righteousness. [12] So, the sacrifice of Jesus pleased God more than the sacrifice of animals [13] .

Angels cannot die so they cannot be sacrificed. Though sinless, they could never satisfy God’s righteousness for the redemption of men because they could never represent man [14] .

Conclusion

The sacrifice of Christ shows us the great love of God who provided his Son as a perfect sacrifice for sin. It also shows us the great love of Christ for his followers.

By the sacrifice of Christ we are reconciled to God despite our sin. The resurrection of Christ demonstrated righteousness of God and provided us with the hope of being raised from the dead when Christ returns.

Bible references

1 Gen. 3:21
2 Heb 9:22
3 Leviticus 17:11
4 Rom 3:23-26
5 Rom 8:3
6 2 Cor. 5:21 ;Mt. 1:1 ;Heb. 2:9,14; 5:7 ;Rom. 5:12
7 Mt. 3:13 -17
8 Lk. 4:1-13
9 Mt.16:21-23
10 Lk. 12:50
11 Mt.19:16,17
12 Rom. 3:24 -6; 8:3; Heb. 2:14 -15; Rom. 5:21
13 Heb. 9:12-14; 10:4-9; Ps. 40:6-8; Isa. 53:10; Ps. 69:31
14 Heb. 2:9; 10:14 -17