Good Friday Meditations- Loving Sacrifice

Good Friday Meditations: Loving Sacrifice

Our next Paschal reflection follows along the same path as our previous meditation. In fact, for some Christian traditions, this understanding of the atonement serves as an alternative, or replacement, for the model upon which we just reflected. Consequently, the human problem remains the same here: the universal experience of guilt. The sacrifice model is probably the most popular and most common conception of the atonement found throughout the history of the church, and it is the central theme of the book of Hebrews.  

Metaphorical Reflection:

A former college student who has sustained a great amount of debt receives a check in the mail from a financial donor who lovingly and selflessly gives up her retirement fund in order to clear the student’s balance. We can also think of a mother undergoing severe complications during pregnancy who sacrifices her life so that her baby can live.
 

Theology:

In the Old Testament, the sacrificial blood of animals, according to the law of God, is understood as atoning for transgressions—“covering,” “blotting out,” “removing,” “wiping away,” “washing clean,” “doing away with” the guilt of sin. Even more so in ancient times, animals were of great worth as a source of food and capital. These sacrificial rituals, then, involved a sacrifice of something extremely valuable. Through these contrite offerings, a costly price was being paid. 

The NT authors recognized Jesus Christ as fulfilling and completing the Old Testament sacrificial system, freely offering forgiveness to all people through his work on the cross. This loving, once-and-for-all sacrifice is an offering of peace, reconciliation, and adoption from God to all human beings—both for those who are close and for those who are far off, for the “righteous” and the wicked. May we know this truth in the depths of our being: God wants to forgive us (often times, more than we want his forgiveness) because he desires to be in relationship with us, and he desires to be in relationship with us because he loves us deeply.   
 

Biblical Meditations:

  • Heb 9:11-10:18 (Jesus, both priest and sacrifice, redeemed us by his blood, fulfilling the sacrificial system of old) 
  • Gal 3:13-15 (Christ “paid” our “price”) 
  • Col 2:13-14 (His sacrifice cancelled our debt) 
  • 2 Cor 5:14-20 (reconciliation & restoration of relationship through the work of Christ) 
  • Rom 8:14-17 (adoption into the family of God: “heirs of God & co-heirs with Christ”) 
  • 1 John 2:1-2 (Christ advocates for us now)

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