The Sacrifice

On the surface of life, Easter is filled with bunnies, colorful eggs and candy that sweeten the taste of those who hunt for them. Easter is also a time when you and I should consider the blessings of the relationship God has given us. For reasons that man cannot fathom, God has chosen to reconcile the sin that kept God and man apart through the cross of Calvary. Christ's death on Calvary gave you and I the opportunity to choose life and become a child of God.

Much could be written to show how Christ fulfilled the law. Wanting to accomplish his desire to have justice, God sent his son, in the form of a man to fulfill the law. Christ was sent into the world to save the lost, primarily to Israel his chosen people. He did not come to rule, but came as a servant who desired to do the will of God. He was the Lamb of God slain from the beginning of the world that came to ransom and redeem mankind from utter destruction.

Accomplishing justice was a bloody affair but because all men have sinned man was destined to face the penalty of the law. Paul wrote that Godís perfect law gave birth to death for one reason, natural man could not obey the law. God hated sin and dealt with the original sin by driving Adam and Eve out of the perfect environment into the world where sin blossomed and bore fruit. Adam and Eve had no access to the gift of life, because God had placed his Angel to guard the way. Therefore, man was forced to face death with no hope of eternal life. Man's sin also stood between Godís love and his sense of justice.

God devised a plan to reconcile man to him through the feasts and sacrifices prescribed by the law. These feasts were to be events of rejoicing after a mandatory sacrifice.

For seven days celebrate the Feast to the LORD your God at the place the LORD will choose. For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete. Three times a year all your men must appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles. No man should appear before the LORD empty-handed: Deuteronomy 16:15-16

The things that take place in man's life on earth keep his mind focused on the things of this world. However, for seven days, three times a year man had to focus on the things God did for them. These feasts are like revivals of today, and other events of our Christian life, which draw you closer to God. God wanted his people to celebrate the festivals with rejoicing and thanksgiving, not in sackcloth and ashes. The feasts were a solemn time as God called Israel as a nation to seek the Lord and renew their covenant with God.

Three times a man was to appear before God at the place God chose, so Jesus went to the temple at Jerusalem. The week began as Jesus crossed the Kidron valley going into Jerusalem. Scripture records that those who recognized Jesus as the coming King threw palm branches in his path, singing Hosanna! "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" Mark 11:9. The palm branches were symbolic of Israelís strength and the people were ready to crown him King so he could deliver them from the Roman oppression. Jesus had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover feast a festival that celebrated God deliverance out of Slavery.

Today we celebrate communion with elements found in the Passover that remind us of the Covenant that Jesus made with man. In the law it is written a life for a life and Jesus gave his life as a ransom in hopes that you would give your life to him. His blood purchased your life from Satan who owned and held you in slavery. However, Jesus chose to set you free to choose whom you would serve. Within the Passover comes the blood pasted on the door frames of your dwelling and the lamb you partake of.

When Christ went into the temple at Jerusalem where he saw things that angered him.

Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. "It is written," he said to them, "'My house will be called a house of prayer,' but you are making it 'a den of robbers.'" Matthew 21:12-13

It wasnít the things that were being sold that Christ was angry about but the greed of those selling in the temple. Would Jesus said anything if the things needed for worship had been sold at a fair price? Jesus was cleaning his fathers house of the leaven within it a week before the true sacrifice was slain.

To celebrate the feast of unleavened bread, the whole house had to be cleaned of yeast. Anything made of yeast was to be taken out of the house and discarded. It is also the time you repent where your house is swept clean.

For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And whoever eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel, whether he is an alien or native-born. Exodus 12:19

Jesus wanted his house to be holy, a place where men could reach out to a Holy God. But, yeast corrupts the soul as sin does. The house that Christ lives in today needs to be free of sin also. Jesus Christ lives in you to help you live a Holy life, sweeping your house clean and making it presentable for the spirit of God to dwell in you

The Sacrifice had to be free of defect and Christ was without sin. Even Pontius Pilate and Herod, could not find reason to put Christ to death and attempted to free him. The world wanted him gone and chose to crucify him so Pilate washed his hands of the matter.

The last feast was the feast of weeks. This occurred at the beginning of harvest where the first fruits of the harvest were waved before the Lord and celebrated. The first fruits were held high in the air so all could see the fruit, Christ was the fruit of the earth and the first fruit of God in the right place at the right time displayed so all men could see the love of God. The feast of weeks followed the feast of unleavened bread and is known today as Pentecost. Pentecost is the time when the Holy Spirit came to indwell man. In the feast of tabernacles men built shelters made of branches to dwell in them. But in Pentecost, God chose to dwell in man to become his mentor. It is the ministry of the Holy Spirit that you and I may have the power to live the Holy life that God intended that all men have.

The sacrifice made on the cross by Christ also symbolizes the atonement God provided for man's sin. Without this sacrifice, man's fate would be destined to certain doom. In his sacrifice,

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! Romans 5:8-9

Finally, in the trial of Jesus showed a different aspect of the atonement sacrifice. Leviticus 16 tells us about how the sin of Israel was atoned for once a year. First the high priest made a sacrifice for himself and then for the people. This sacrifice prescribed that two goats were brought before the high priest that cast lots for their fate. When the lots were cast, the High Priest sought a divine decision to determine the goat chosen to be sacrificed, and the one set free.

It is hard to see Pontius Pilot as the High priest but he too had a choice of two persons for the Cross. Christ was chosen and Barabbas was sent away, freed by the choice of the people. Under the direction of the priests, the crowd cried out, crucify him, crucify him. They shouted louder than his followers did. The crowd shouted even louder, "his blood be on our heads," giving Pilate the opportunity to agree with the crowd.

God chose the most valuable thing he had to make restitution for mans sin. The law was fulfilled in Christ, our sin has been paid for with his blood. God is still a God of choices, the price of your sin has been paid and God is willing to adopt you as his child. All you have to do is to accept the death of Christ on Calvary as the payment for your sins and accept Jesus as Lord. Like the thief Christ forgave his sins on the cross, your sins were forgiven on the cross with Christ. He died for the sins of the world and he spoke these words on the cross.

" Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." Luke 23:34

Most people think that Christ was speaking of the people who crucified him, but it was my sin that placed him on the cross and died for. I had no way of knowing that my sin put Christ on the cross before I knew him, but on the cross he showed his love for me.


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