When did the sacrifice of Christ begin?
If you ask any Sunday School Child, “What was the sacrifice of Jesus?” most of them will quickly reply, “He died on the cross for our sins.” Come to think of it, that’s what most of us would say. And while that’s completely true, that answer doesn’t really cover the depth of His sacrifice, does it? Was the sacrifice of Christ really just a physical one? His death on the cross fulfilled the requirements of the Law for redemption, but His sacrifice went even deeper than what He physically endured on the cross.
Mel Gibson is preparing a sequel to the Passion of the Christ about the days after the resurrection. How many of you saw the first film? If you haven’t seen it yet, let me warn you… [SPOILER ALERT] I wouldn’t rate it among the top ten date movies. You’d be better off with The Notebook or even Terminator II.
Gibson’s goal in The Passion was to offend your senses. The film was so violent and so graphic that it’s difficult to imagine anyone going through that much suffering for anyone else. I literally thought I was going to throw-up during the flogging scene and found myself surprisingly glad when Jesus finally died so His suffering would stop.
It was horrific. Gibson undoubtedly accomplished his goal, but by concentrating on those few terrible moments, the movie may have missed the full scope of His divine sacrifice.
Christ’s sacrifice didn’t begin at the cross. It didn’t begin with His emotional prayer at Gethsemane or with His arrest in the garden. The pain of Christ’s sacrifice didn’t even begin when he left the perfection of Heaven to be born in a manger. His sacrifice started before the beginning of time when the Father, Jesus, and the Spirit made a single remarkable decision.
Jesus is not the New Testament version of the Trinity. He did not spend eternity waiting for His turn at bat. Scripture tells us that all of creation is created for and by the Son. It was Christ at the burning bush—it was Christ who made a sacrifice at the moment man was created.
God had two choices as he breathed into Adam’s lungs. He could create a slave-like race of followers (a perfect world but without the possibility of love) or He could give us free-will.
Scripture’s clear that no man can come to God without His prompting, but there is an element of free-will within that calling. Love cannot exist without choice, and God so intensely wanted a personal relationship with us that He gave us the ability to reject Him.
This is where Christ’s sacrifice began. Imagine that moment when God breathed life into Adam. The world was perfect and Adam loved God with everything that he was. But Christ knew the cost of what He’d given man from the beginning.
Those He loved would only repay Him with disregard and disobedience.
God watched as humanity took His gift of perfect love and abandoned it.
He watched, knowing the cross would now be waiting for Him to reclaim us.
And He watched, knowing most would still reject Him even after the cross.
All this for Love.
This is where Christ’s sacrifice began—a sacrifice of rejection and sorrow for love.
When we celebrate the resurrection of Christ that brings us life, do we recognize the sacrificial nature of Christ’s character? He didn’t suffer for a weekend, He has suffered since the beginning of time, all for the possibility of a true relationship with His creation.
Does the way you live your life honor that sacrifice?