Living Sacrifice

Jesus was held and brought before the chief priests, elders and the scribes. They were seeking a testimony to condemn Him and put Him to death. One after another people came forward and testified against Him. But the testimonies contradicted and so the chief priest could not condemn Him. Then the high priest stood up, looked at Jesus, and asked, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”
And Jesus said, “I AM; and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Almighty and coming on the clouds of heaven”. The priest on hearing this tore his garments and exclaimed, “We do not need anymore witnesses. You have heard His blasphemy. What is your decision?” The others condemned Him as being guilty and deserved death. [Mark 14:53-64]
The next morning, the chief priests, with the elders and scribes and the whole council bound Jesus and handed Him over to Pilate (who was the governor of Judea from A.D. 26-36). Jesus was kept in the Judgment Hall. Pilate went in and asked Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?”
Jesus replied, “Are you saying this of yourself?”
Pilate replied, “Am I a Jew? Your own people and their chief priest delivered You to me. What have you done?”
Jesus answered, “My kingdom does not belong to this world. Otherwise My followers would have been fighting to keep Me from being handed over to the Jews.”
Pilate then said to Him, “Then You are a King?”
Jesus answered, “You say it correctly. For I am a King. This is why I was born and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the Truth.”
“What is the truth,” Pilate asked and went out. [John 18:33-38]
Pilate could not find fault in Jesus to condemn Him. So Pilate said to Him, “Do you not know that I have power to release You and I have power to crucify You?”
Jesus answered, “You would not have any authority against Me if it were not given you from above.” [John 19:9-11]
Pilate turned to the crowds and said, “What shall I do with the Man whom you call the King of the Jews?”
The crowd shouted back, “Crucify Him.”
Then Pilate said to them, “Why? What has He done that is evil?”
But the crowd shouted all the more to crucify Him. So Pilate delivered Jesus into their hands to be crucified. [Mark 15:12-15]
From the above scene we see that Jesus chose this path purposely. If Jesus was King His followers would surely fight for Him. Jesus pointed out that the authority Pilate had against Him was not possible had it not been given by God. And besides this, Pilate could not find any fault in Him. But why Jesus, who claimed to be Christ and King, chose this path? And why He had to be crucified when no guilt was found in Him?

Firstly, who is Jesus?
Jesus was there in the beginning.
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” (John 8:58). And Colossians 1:17 &18 says: “For by him (Jesus) all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Jesus was there before the creation of the universe, the angels, or the humans. He was also involved in the creation.

Jesus is God
“For to us a child is born... And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6).
“In the beginning was the Word (Jesus), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself... The Word (Jesus) became flesh and made his dwelling among us...”(John 1:1 & 14)

Secondly, why Jesus came to the world?
Hebrews 10:5-6 says, “Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering You(God) did not desire, but a body You prepared for Me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings You were not pleased.” Jesus continued in the next verse, “... Here I am- it is written about me in the scroll- I have come to do your will, O God.” God was not pleased with the burnt offering and sin offering offered by man so Jesus came to give Himself as an offering, in the form of man through the body that was prepared for Him.

What is this burnt offering?
Burnt offering is one of the sacrifices offered for cleansing of sins. God instructed the Israelites to do it; it was not from man. We see in Numbers:
“Now if you unintentionally fail to keep any of these commands the LORD gave Moses... and if this is done unintentionally without the community being aware of it, then the whole community is to offer a young bull for a burnt offering as an aroma pleasing to the LORD, along with its prescribed grain offering and drink offering, and a male goat for a sin offering. The priest is to make atonement for the whole Israelite community, and they will be forgiven, for it was not intentional and they have brought to the LORD for their wrong an offering made by fire and a sin offering.” (Numbers 15:22-25).
But God was not pleased because they are evil and their hands are full of blood [Isaiah 1:12-15]. Also it could not take away the sins: “But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” (Hebrews 10:3-4). They are outwardly clean only (Hebrews 9:13).

So why did God impose this act?
 ”The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming- not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.” (Hebrews 10:1). It is just a shadow of Jesus coming into the world who would offer Himself as a living sacrifice. “For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man”(Romans 8:3). What man could not do God did by sending His Son Jesus for the atonement of man’s sinful state. In doing this man will be no more separated from God because of his sins, for he will be forgiven.
Now to understand why man is sinful and that he needs atonement for sin let us travel back in time to the time of creation.
God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). The morning stars (Angels) were shouting for joy when God laid the foundation of the world (Job 38:4-7). And God saw that everything He has created, both and unseen, is good (Genesis 1:31, Colossians 1:16). But one of the angels, Lucifer, went against God because of his pride. And Lucifer was sent out from God’s presence. “How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star... You have been cast down to the earth...”You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven... I will make myself like the Most High.” But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit.” (Isaiah 14:14-15). Satan, who was deceiving and tricky, was cast down to the earth. “... that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.” (Revelation 12:9).
Satan in the form of serpent deceived Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. They ate what God told them not to eat. Adam and Eve were created in the image of God and it was good (Genesis 1:31). They were one with God. But they using their will disobeyed God and sin entered into the world (Romans 5:12). Man goes away from God’s presence because of his unholiness (Hebrews 12:14). The consequence is this: “Then he will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).
But God loved us. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son (Jesus) as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10). So Jesus came to reconcile us back to God.
Coming back to the story, Pilate delivered Jesus to the crowd. The soldiers led Him to the courtyard inside the palace. They dressed Him in purple robe and weaved a crown of thorns for Him. They struck Him with a bamboo-like reed, spat on Him and mocked Him. When they finished they put His own clothes on Him. Then, He was led to Calvary with His cross. (Mark 15:16-20).
He was crucified along with two other criminals that morning. Darkness enveloped the whole land till afternoon. When the sun’s light was fading Jesus knowing that all was finished said, “I thirst”.
One of the guards put a sponge soaked in the soup wine on a reed and held it to His mouth.
He received the sour wine and said, “It is finished”. And He bowed His head and gave us His spirit. The curtain of the temple was torn in two.
The centurion, having seen what had taken place exclaimed, “Really, this Man was God’s Son!” (Luke 23:33-47, John 19:28,30). Some men went to Pilate and took his permission to take away the body of Jesus. There was new tomb in a garden not far from where Jesus was crucified. They laid Jesus there (John 19:38-42).
On the first day of the week, near dawn, there was a great earthquake, and the boulder of the tomb was rolled back. There was an angel of the Lord. There were some women who came to look at the tomb. The angel said to them, “He is not here. He has risen, as He said. Tell the disciples He has risen from the dead”.
Jesus died and rose again. Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, as called by John the Baptist (John 1:29), had offered Himself as a living sacrifice. This was Jesus:
“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:22-25). Pilate asked Jesus what was the truth. Jesus had shown the truth, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14:6-7). If you are lost run to Jesus because, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Now when we come to Christ we are one with God because the blood of Jesus has cleansed us. “... we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all... we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus” (Hebrews 10:10,19).
There is no more condemnation: “... there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” (Romans 8:1).
And devil’s work is destroyed: “... The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” (1 John 3:8).
Praise God!
Jesus appeared to the disciples after He rose again but Thomas was not there. So the others kept telling him that they saw Jesus. He replied, “Unless I see in His hands the marks made by the nails and put my finger into the nail prints, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe”.
Eight days later when they were all together Jesus came. Jesus called Thomas and said, “Reach your finger here and see my hands. Put your hand and place it on my side. Do not be faithless”.
Thomas cried, “My Lord and my God!”.
Jesus replied, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”. (John 20:24-29).