A sacrifice is the giving of a gift- the best of our crop; the first of our flock; the precious flour of a cake given from a meagre larder. We know when we give a gift to someone our hope is that in it a person will know that we care for them. We hope the gift will not only show them what we think or feel about them but is a gift just right for them, showing we have understood who they are.
Our sacrifice to God is a gift- a gift to give thanks to the person of God; a way to restore and confirm our relationship- to say sorry or give thanks. As Christians our sacrifice is Christ himself and we are called to be humble and contrite, and offer a sacrifice of praise. We are invited in our offering of faith to live sacrificial lives and through the Spirit the offering is transformed by grace in Christ to goodness – an expression of a will transformed in to God’s will – to participate in the endless grace of God’s giving self: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Before God’s being and unapproachable holiness we are undone. What gift could we give? How could we present a gift to God that could say to God, this is who I believe you to be, and I am sorry for how I have been towards you? What gift could restore within us a sense of who we are, blessed and loved, and who God is, our merciful Father? How can we recover that blessing? Receive the ever present grace of the Fatherhood of God? We cannot! But the Father runs towards us in our acknowledging this and turning to him. As we turn to him we find him waiting with a splendid coat and a ring and he prepares a feast for us and he causes us to stand assured of his love for us.
How is this possible? The offence of sin against God is so deep and our condemnation complete. The depth of the Father’s love understands this and he provides the sacrifice that reveals who he is and who we are in him- this is Christ. Christ lives his life, alive for us and shows the depths of love that we are called to, by offering this life as a sacrifice to God. God gives himself as a gift to us so that we can, in faith, offer the life of Christ as our sacrifice to him for our sins.
The sacrifice of Christ is sufficient to robe us in righteousness so that we can participate in the feast of God’s goodness. Our faith in Christ to cleanse us and to heal us is our turning back to God.
Jesus’ sacrifice in life ended in death on a cruel cross. The perfect sacrifice of Christ’s life was nailed to the cross. In his life he bore the wrath of God- God’s judgement on a cruel and violent world- and all hell was placed on him as God gave him over to the principalities and powers that ended his life. The authorities nailed him to the cross- they did not know God- they rejected Jesus and he prays: forgive them because they do not know what they are doing. God’s will in Christ was that those who drove the nails into him, who crowned him with thorns and mocked him after scourging him, would be forgiven! In death Jesus descended in to hell; in victory over the principalities and powers, rose again, and ascended into heaven. Our faith is he took our punishment for sin in his death so that we might escape death.
In faith we present the perfect gift of Christ to God. In presenting this gift we say- this is the life you have called us to and this is who you are. In believing in Christ as our saviour we are made free to offer a sacrifice of praise. There is no other gift we can offer except our lives, knowing that in Christ his life is our life. There is no more we can offer. God himself provides the sacrifice and our life is made whole in him: restored and forgiven. The impossible is made possible as we offer our sacrifice of faith and are forgiven, washed and restored.
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