Paul’s understanding of Jesus as a blood sacrifice is not helpful for me. I do not live in a time when people are ritually put to death to appease “the gods”. I also do not live in a time where the worship of God requires the sacrifice of animals. So, it just not a helpful way of looking at what happen to Jesus’ death.
As I write these words, I think how wonderful it would be to release Christianity from this concept of substitutional sacrifice that has become as ingrained in our theology. In any case, I am done with it.
The next question is what to do with the rest of chapter 5 which expresses this idea. Certainly, Jesus’ life was lived in a sacrificial way. He talked with people who were socially beneath him in order to tell them about the authentic nature of the Divine . He argued with people who believed themselves socially above him to tell them about the authentic nature of the Divine. And he walked with people who would listen to him so he could show them the authentic nature of the Divine. His life was one of willing submission to the work he was given to do by the leading of God’s spirit.
Read Romans 5:6-11 and see if you understand anything differently
6-8 Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.
9-11 Now that we are set right with God by means of this sacrificial death, the consummate blood sacrifice, there is no longer a question of being at odds with God in any way. If, when we were at our worst, we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of his Son, now that we’re at our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of his resurrection life! Now that we have actually received this amazing friendship with God, we are no longer content to simply say it in plodding prose. We sing and shout our praises to God through Jesus, the Messiah!
So now I come to a question for myself and you. As those who follow the risen Christ and believe in the work begun by Jesus of Nazareth and enjoy the grace of God in our lives, what are we willing to sacrifice in honor of God?
Don’t get worried, I was just thinking about an hour on Sunday morning and uninterrupted time each day to talk with God. What do you think? Who knows where it would lead?