Sacrifice is difficult in a selfish and materialistic age, yet it still happens – and we may be thankful. Some Parents learn to sacrifice, and benefit themselves by it, so also some carers, and some in public service. All can get it wrong, parents trying to live through their children, carers also trying to control, volunteers wanting to do their own thing . . Sacrifice is not easy!
Sacrifice means to give away something of value in hope of gaining. Literally “to make holy,” for many religions have had some idea of sacrifice. Christians would see it in the Old Testament sacrifices, especially Passover, but above all in Jesus. So letter to Hebrews has much to say about Jesus. (reading Hebrews 9:24-28).
What is so special about Jesus and his death?
- it is an undeserved death – he was not guilty of any crime, yet he suffers voluntarily. He does not escape arrest, for he has come from heaven to die. This is strange, yet significant.
- his death is the culmination of his life – not consequence of foolishness or risk taking, but living for others (and accepting the sacrificial consequences). He has gone without family, career, comfort, to do this.
- he dies for people who have little idea what is happening, and offer no support. Yet his love is sufficient – and effective, for his death sets us free, and brings (not just to a local circle of friends, but to humanity) the possibility of forgiveness through repentance and faith.
So sacrifice is valued, not just when there is an accident with unpleasant consequences, but as an embodiment of Christlikeness – of Christian virtue. Remembering the sacrifice of others may not be comfortable – we prefer to see ourselves as the Saviour, rather than the Saved. Yet this is part of the “offence of the gospel”, the difficulty that we cannot do what is needed, and must rely on God to act, sacrificially, for us.
That Jesus died is history; that those who watched the execution understood little and had little hope is pretty clear; that they were wrong – and Jesus was right in his teaching, and his choices – depends on the Resurrection for support. He died, as a sacrifice, offered by himself. But for me? That is something that needs decision.