Christ, Our Great Sacrifice
Pr. Dennis Gallaher
The older man asked if I would help him at his farm for the afternoon. Being a college student I knew that I would also enjoy a home cooked meal served by his wife who was an excellent cook. I willingly agreed to meet him the next afternoon.
When I arrived he was sharpening knives in the kitchen. I thought I had come to dig post holes or clean up the barn but very quickly learned that the task was something I had never imagined. The farmer had fallen on hard times and couldn’t feed his family. The only thing left was his small goat herd and today, with my help, he intended to butcher the goats to feed his family.
The goats had been herded into a pen and sounded off loudly when we approached. They hoped they were going to be fed; in truth, they were to provide substances for his wife and children.
My job was to catch each goat and hang them by their back legs. The knife, sharpened to a razors edge, would be slipped into the throat and with one forward motion the blood would run into a large cauldron placed underneath. By nightfall the deed was done. A sacrifice had been made. The meat would sustain his family until he found employment and the goat herd would grow again. To this day I have not seen that much blood.
God told the children of Israel,
“The life of the flesh is in the blood.” Leviticus 17:11
One old commentator said of this scripture, “the life and soul of every creature and even the life and soul of man is bound in the blood.” Remarkably, medical science has been able to fabricate every organ and limb of the human body except one. There is no substitute for blood. It cannot be “artificially produced” like a heart, lung or limb because God has encoded into the blood the very essence of life.
For centuries the Old Testament ran thick with the blood of animals. As long as there was an altar, the blood of bulls, goats, sheep and birds was poured in such quantities that an aqueduct system was designed to allow the spent blood to flow out of the altar area into the valley below. It was constant and the area set aside for blood-letting must have been frightening to the eye. Year after year, the priests stood ready to do the job of killing the animals as they came. Though we might imagine the beauty of the temple, there was a terrible aspect as well.
The temple was a place where death reigned because the blood of animals could never pay for the sin of mankind. It was only a temporary compress placed on the hemorrhage that sin had brought to God’s children. From the Garden forward, the life of man constantly drained from the wound of sin.
But then a night of all nights arrived. A sinless infant lay in the squaller of a sheep pen, the same pens that held the sheep destined for the Temple sacrifices. Throughout His sinless life, Jesus participated in the Jewish practice of sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice... always returning time after appointed time to bring the animal that would provide a moment of covering.
And then the time came when Jesus, burdened with the knowing of what the next hours would bring, said to the Father, “Let this cup pass... but not My will but Yours be done!” And so began the passion, the scourging, the final blood-letting for the sin of mankind.
Mind you, this was not the blood that held the life of an animal or the blood of the first Adam that encoded with original sin. This was blood that had never been tainted by sin and was without even the scent of death.
Jesus became sin for us. He allowed all sin to fall on Him, His body “pierced through for our iniquity... smitten of God and afflicted... crushed for our sin... scourged for our healing.” See the blood flow! See the scourging rip the flesh! See the nails driven and the blood strike the ground below! All of this and more till the final horrible moment when the Father turned His back, “My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
But if the total sacrifice was simply the death on the cross, the price of redemption would not have been paid. Instead, “by His own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” The cost of my sin was beyond the death on the cross. My new life is the result of the sinless blood, the perfect sacrifice, poured out on the mercy seat before the Father in Heaven. “The life is in the blood,” my friend. The life of the Spirit is yours because of the blood of the Jesus.
It was the end of the day. The blood letting in the barn was now over and all that remained was the cauldron filled with blood. I looked at the farmer who stood in the door and asked the obvious, “what should I do with the blood?”
“Dig a hole and pour it out. It’s no good for anything.”
And that is the same for the countless numbers of animals whose sacrifice could not stay the hemorrhage of sin. None could provide the least relief for the sin of mankind. My sin, your sin would be paid by the total and complete sacrifice of Jesus. No other payment could suffice, no other blood offered could do what Christ, our great Sacrifice could provide. Nothing could take away our stain, nothing but the blood of Jesus!