Last modified on May 4, 2019, at 11:38

Sacrifice

Sacrifice is the "destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else" [1]

"To sacrifice is to give up something valuable or precious, often with the intent of accomplishing a greater purpose or goal. Sacrifice has always been a part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a reminder of the great atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ for all who have lived or will live on earth. Before the ministry of Christ, animal sacrifices were offered for this purpose. After the Atonement of Christ, followers of Jesus Christ—by His direction—began to offer instead a "broken heart and contrite spirit", a willingness to repent of sins and a desire to follow Jesus Christ and align one's life with His commandments." [2]

Christians consecrated to God through baptism in Christ Jesus are called by God to lose their lives in self-sacrifice of worship and service to God by doing good works which God prepared beforehand to be done as a way of life, "walking in them"[3].

Human SacrificeEdit

Pagan religionsEdit

Human sacrifice was practiced by many pagan religions as being the most precious, valuable and pleasing offering in the sight of the gods. The Aztec and Maya Indian tribes were particularly prolific in this regard, prior to the arrival of the Spanish and the subsequent conversion of the indigenous peoples of Colonial Latin America to Christianity. In more recent centuries, Satanists have been accused of practicing human sacrifice, even of offering their own children as a blood sacrifice on an altar.[4]

Substitutionary sacrificeEdit

The Jewish covenant of circumcision involved the shedding of human blood by surgical removal of the foreskin of male infants on the eighth day after birth, without the death of those so consecrated to God[5]. The absolute necessity of blood sacrifice is set forth in the Bible as an infallible truth of divine revelation inspired by the Holy Spirit of God in both the Old and New Testaments. Under the Law of Moses almost everything dedicated and consecrated to God is purified with blood[6], and most importantly, "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins" Hebrews 9:22. "For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul." Leviticus 17:11[7].

The Levitical sacrifices of Israel included the bloody sacrifice of animals, and also unbloody sacrifices of grain, bread, grape-wine, and fruits of the earth[8]. Many of these sacrifices were offered up as food consecrated to the LORD and then eaten as a sacred sacrificial meal, with a representative portion of the sacrificial offering first presented on the altar of sacrifice by the priest as a burnt offering pleasing to God, and, with this having been done by the priest, a portion of the remainder was given from the altar to the (ritually clean) worshiper offering it, to be eaten as a meal of sacred communion with the holy presence of God as a partaking of His blessing, and the rest was eaten by the priest and his family as their portion of the sacrifice due to them from the altar[9]. The person offering an animal in sacrifice to the Lord, for whatever reason, brought it to the tabernacle, and later, in the land of Israel, to the temple of Jerusalem, presented it to the priest or levite and placed a hand or both hands on its head, to signify that it was offered to God in place of the worshiper offering it, as a "substitutionary sacrifice": the blood of the animal for the blood of the person offering sacrifice[10]. The firstborn sons of the people of Israel belonged to God as a sacrificial offering in commemoration of their deliverance from bondage in Egypt on the occasion of the death of the firstborn of the Egyptians and their cattle, and the people of Israel were commanded to redeem the lives of their firstborn sons by the sacrifice of animals and the payment of money as a substitutionary offering on their behalf[11]. The sacrifice of Isaac by his father Abraham in obedience to the command of God did not finally culminate in the death of his son, but was fulfilled in Abraham's utterly renouncing what he loved most, as a sacrificial offering to God. The LORD did not actually desire the human sacrifice of his son on that occasion, because it was a test of obedience, and provided instead a sacrifice for himself by the substitution of a ram caught in a thicket by its horns, which Abraham offered up to God as a sacrificial offering of flesh and blood in place of his son Isaac[12]. The Angel of the LORD declared that all nations would be blessed because Abraham obeyed the voice of God. By this example, and the strict regulations of sacrificial offering prescribed by God as "most pleasing" in the Law of Moses, the rabbis of Israel and the people of God understood that any ritual worship directly involving the sacrifice of human flesh and blood is absolutely forbidden[13].

Jesus as the ultimate sacrificeEdit

The ultimate human blood sacrifice of atonement and worship of God is fully realized in Jesus Christ, proclaimed by Christianity as the new Adam[14], head and representative before God of the whole human race, the One proclaimed beforehand by the prophets of Israel and appointed by God as High Priest according to the order or pattern of Melchizedek[15], in his voluntary submitting to the agonizing passion and death on a cross for the redemption of sin in obediently offering Himself in total self-renunciation as the sacrificial victim in reparation to God the Father "from the foundation of the world"[16], a whole sacrifice infinitely surpassing in value all other sacrifices that have been and ever could be made. Christ, fully God and fully man, makes all other blood sacrifices of atonement in ritual worship of God unnecessary, as being totally and finally fulfilled, completely and forever, in himself. He has made full and abundant, infinite satisfaction for all the outrages ever made against the majesty and goodness of God. He became "a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make expiation for the sins of the people." He is loving and compassionate toward all, "not willing that any should perish[17]."

Eucharistic sacrificeEdit

The Eucharist with its sacrificial offering of bread and wine[18] in union with the Lord Jesus Christ represents the unbloody presentation and acknowledgement by Christian worshipers of the one unrepeatable eternal sacrifice of Christ by the people of God as offered on their behalf by him as High Priest before God the Almighty Father for the benefit of themselves and the whole world "from the foundation of the world" to the end of time. "We have an altar from which those who serve in the tabernacle have no right to eat."[19]

"His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature."[20]

It has been said by several biblical commentators throughout the Christian centuries that the Epistle to the Hebrews is a perfect expression from the Apostolic Age of the doctrine of the superiority of the universal and supreme High Priesthood of Christ Jesus as Lord and Redeemer and Mediator in the worship of Christian sacrifice in His Body and Blood interceding for sinners.[21].

Christian service as sacrifice: St. PaulEdit

Saint Paul testifies that through the mercy and grace given him by God, he is a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the Gospel of God, so that the sacrificial offering up (προσφορὰ prosphora) of the Gentiles may be acceptable, and sanctified by the Holy Spirit, who apportions to each member of the body of Christ individually the varieties of service He inspires in them. "In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God"[22] (RSVCE). All self-centeredness and evil passions must be sacrificed.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, chapter 12, King James Version [23]
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
—St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians, chapter 2, verse 10, King James Version
See Corporal and spiritual works of mercy

ReferencesEdit

  1. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
  2. LDS.org - Topic Definition - Sacrifice
  3. Colossians 2:12; Ephesians 2:10; John 14:12; John 14:23; 1 John 3:16; 1 John 3:17; 1 John 3:18; 1 John 4:20
  4. Facts and Fallacies of "Human Sacrifice" in LaVeyan Satanism: Do Satanists Believe in Human Sacrifice? by Catherine Boyer (July 04, 2018) (learnreligions.com)
    How Do Satanists Sacrifice Babies? (answers.com) The writer says it is a practice of Devil worshipers, not Satanists.
    10 Contemporary Cases of Human Sacrifice (listverse.com)
  5. Genesis 17:1-14
  6. This included the people redeemed from the slavery in Egypt, the book of the covenant itself, and the ritual consecration of the priesthood and of the levites for service in the tabernacle and the temple. See Exodus 24:3-8; 29:1-21
  7. Hebrews 9:22 in the context of 9:18-22 and Leviticus 17:11 in the context of 17:10-14.
    See multiple commentaries on Hebrews 9:22 and multiple commentaries on Leviticus 17:11.
  8. Leviticus chapters 1–7
  9. Numbers chapter 18
  10. See Exodus 29:10-12, 15-20; Leviticus 1:3-9; 3:2, 8; 4:4, 13-21, 24, 29, 33; 8:14; 16:20-22; 24:14-16; Numbers 8:12.
  11. Exodus 13:1-16
  12. Genesis 22:1-18
  13. The abortion of babies before birth, and measures attempted by government officials to legalize infanticide after birth, is a modern form of human sacrifice for the sake of personal convenience, as a therapeutic method of treating the emotional stress of women who do not want to bring their pregnancy to term, to satisfy the demands of boyfriends and husbands who do not want responsibility of caring for a helpless infant, and supposedly as a means of economic benefit to human society, to reduce poverty and overcrowding; which is not essentially different from the motives of ancient pagan societies for the sake of benefitting their crops, their trade, and insuring the defense of their people against disasters of nature and the arbitrary anger of gods and demons. The "covenant with death" involved a people offering to the powers of death the deaths of others in war as a sacrifice of appeasement for protection, also to attain dominant power through acts of sheer terrorism over other nations, to insure their own success in battle and to deflect the fate that would otherwise fall on themselves. See Isaiah 28:14-19.
  14. Romans 5:14; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22
  15. Hebrews 5:1-10
  16. 1 Peter 1:18-21; Hebrews 1:3; 10:11-12; Colossians 2:9-
  17. Hebrews 2:17b; Matthew 11:27-29; 2 Peter 3:9b
  18. "bread and wine", in the Epistle to the Hebrews, is seen in the offering of the priest Melchizedek as a foreshadowing of the future sacrificial offering of Christ. The "bread and wine" offered by Melchizedek is also a foreshadowing of sacrificial offerings of bread and wine in the Eucharist. Genesis 14:18-20; Hebrews 7:1-27; 13:10.
  19. Hebrews 13:10; see John 6:35-58. "So Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you" (John 6:53). See Real presence and Transubstantiation.
  20. 2 Peter 1:3-4
  21. Epistle to the Hebrews. See the full text in English—RSVCE Hebrews (biblegateway.com) choose any one of the versions available on the biblegateway.com site.
    See also multiple commentaries on Hebrews, verse by verse, King James Version (biblehub.com).
    For Catholic NRSVCE Bible text and notes on Hebrews see Hebrews (usccb.org)
    For Orthodox commentary on Hebrews see The Orthodox Bible Study Companion Series: The Epistle to the Hebrews: High Priest in Heaven, by Fr. Lawrence R. Farley, Ancient Faith Publishing, Chesterton, Indiana (issuu.com)
  22. Romans 15:15-17; 1 Corinthians 12.
    "priestly service" ίερουργούντα hierourgounta "ministering as a priest"
    —See interlinear Greek text of Romans 15:16
  23. See interlinear Greek text of Romans chapter 12