Try this on for size, Ken. I have some strange thoughts on the “Jesus sacrifice.” I do struggle some with some Jewish and Christian belief tenets. It doesn’t change what I believe of God. It in no way diminishes Jesus’ role in my beliefs especially as regards to his influence on the history of western civilization.
The Jesus sacrifice was not his agonizing crucifixion death. My logic says that if Jesus, upon death, was to ascend (eventually) to sit beside his father, (our father too), that is not a sacrifice. It’s more like a reward. And here we are, we Christians are hoping for the same reward.
The Jesus sacrifice was instead his life. We had grown confused about who God is and what God hoped for the civilization part of His creation. God gave us Jesus to live with us, to live and suffer our frailties, our doubts, deceptions and devious ways to teach us his marvelous and “inside track” awareness and appreciation of God. Part of his teaching was that God loves us like a human father loves his human son (daughters too are included). Yeah, sometimes kids behave in ways that they get disowned but that is rare. Mostly, fathers want only good things for their children. They often dismiss, after being appropriately admonished, their child’s little failings. That’s God’s grace at work.
As regards to the old testament sacrifices of Isaac, lambs and goats and bulls, I think that is something that God never wanted. He had no use for them. It is people who thought they might please and win favor with God with such sacrifice. It was the way of religion back then. It was kind of borrowed from other religions. That was one of the reasons that Jesus came to visit us. He helped to straighten us out on that. He didn’t do it overtly but it is one of the changes that happened because he was here with us for awhile.
Then there’s this business that Jesus died as the one sacrifice for the redemption of our sins. Nah! I don’t think it works that way. He did LIVE to teach us what we might do to improve our behavior so as to be more worthy of God’s salvation judgement combined with His forgiving grace. Jesus taught us that, with God’s grace, there really was hope. Before Jesus there wasn’t all that much hope that we had to work with. Jesus taught us that it was hope that God shared with us. God has hopes too: for us.
Here’s where my beliefs differ some with what a lot of Cristians believe. Some Christians think that salvation is guaranteed by a “born again” event in their lives. “Born again,” in my view, is a very human change in attitude towards God and towards one’s self. There is no salvation guarantee but instead it becomes a life long endeavor. It’s not a difficult job. It involves faith and conscience and, at least for me, it’s a lot of fun. It helps me heaps to take humor and learning and hope from adversity. It actually makes living easier. It also energizes and motivates me to do things that I might not otherwise do.
So, Ken, the Jesus sacrifice was not his crucifixion death but instead his life.
George H. Birkett