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What is the concept of sacrifice as it relates to Jesus Christ?

By Joseph D. Meador

religion, articles, christianity

Q&A

Question: Please discuss the concept of sacrifice as it relates to Jesus Christ.

Answer: The sacrifice of Jesus of Nazareth upon the Roman cross is a supreme manifestation of God's love for mankind. Indeed, such love was the prime motivator in God's remedial system (John 3:16). By divine salvational design, the sacrifice of Jesus was an integral feature of his offering for the sins of mankind.

Sacrifice proper: Concerning the subject of sacrifice, such was instituted to provide a covering for man's sins (cf. Gen. 1:29 with 3:21 and 9:3; Gen. 4:4­5 with Heb. 11:4). Such sacrifices were offered upon altars (Ex.20:24) and consisted of clean animals (Gen. 8:20) or the fruits of the earth (Gen. 4:4; Lev. 2:1). The annual atonement sacrifice, an offering made by the high priest to expiate the individual sins of the nation of Israel, required the shedding of blood. Although during the Patriarchy and Mosaic Ages such sacrifices could not take away sin (Psa. 40:6; Heb. 9:9,10:1­11). Such sins were passed over (Rom.3 :25, but remembered year by year in the offering of additional sacrifices. When Messiah shed his blood on the cross, these "passed over" sins were forgiven.

In addition, all sacrifices made during patriarchy and the Hebrew economy were offered in anticipation of the coming Savior (Heb.11:4,17,2 8), and each was typical of Christ's sacrifice for mankind (1 Cor. 5:7; Eph.5:2; Heb. 10:1, 11­12).

Sacrifice as a type: Regarding the typological significance of Scripture, there are two terms of interest. One word is spelled "antetype," and the other is spelled "antitype." The definition of the former, antetype, means an earlier type, or a prototype, an original model after which anything is copied. It is a pattern, sometimes called an archetype, and that means the original pattern of which things are representations or copies. The later term, antitype, means that which corresponds to, or is foreshadowed in the type, an opposite type, a counter­type.

The late Foy E. Wallace, Jr. used the good illustration of the printer's shop. In the printer's shop the type is set, then plates (or negatives) are made; and when fitted on the printer, each plate­negative is inked and pressed against the paper, bringing forth the finished product. As such, the Old Testament represents the type and the New Testament is the antitype.

"The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed-the New Testament is the Old Testament Revealed." The Old Testament was the New Testament in type and the New Testament is the Old Testament in antitype.

In this regard, Jesus of Nazareth is the antitype of the atonement sacrifice (Lev. 16:15­16 with Heb. 9:12,14). He is also the antitype of the Passover lamb (Ex 12:3­6,46 with John 19:36; 1 Cor.5:7); he is the antitype of the peace offering (Lev. 3:1 with Eph. 2:14,16); and he is the antitype of the sin offering (Lev. 4:2­3, 12 with Heb. 13:11­12).

Sacrifice as atonement: During the Mosaic economy, the yearly Day of Atonement was made on by the high priest (Lev.16:11 with Heb.9:7); to sanctify the holy place (Ex.30:10; Lev.16:15­16); nation (Lev.16:17,24; 23:28 and Heb.9:7), and was offered to remedy the sins of the Hebrew people (Lev.16:17, 24; 23:28 and Heb. 9:7).

Jesus of Nazareth is the antitype of the atonement sacrifice (Rom.5:6­11). Such sacrifice by the Messiah was foretold in the Old Testament (Isa.53:4­6, 8­12; Zech. 13: 1­7; and John 11 :50­51). The sacrifice of Messiah was made but once (Heb. 7:27, 9:24­28, 10:10­14; 1 Pet. 3:18) and was effected by Jesus of Nazareth (John 1:29,36; Acts 4:10­12; 1 Thess.1:10; 1 Tim. 2:5­6; Heb. 2:9; and 1 Pet. 2:24).

The sacrifice of Jesus upon the cross exhibited the grace and mercy of God (Rom. 8:32; Eph. 2:4­7; 1 Tim. 2:4; and Heb. 2:9). Finally, it was through the grace and mercy of God, as demonstrated by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, that those who are obedient to the gospel of Christ are justified through his blood (Rom. 5:9; 2 Cor. 5:21); reconciled to God through his offering (Rom. 5:10; 2 Cor. 5:18­20; Eph. 2:13­16; Col. 1:20­22; Heb. 2:17; and 1 Pet. 3:18); and have their sins remitted through his suffering (John 1:29; Rom.3:25; Eph.1:7; 1 John 1:7; and Rev. 1:5).


Published December 1997