When thinking about Christianity, the primary image evoked by the word ‘sacrifice’ is that of Jesus of Nazareth, dying on Golgotha, nailed to a cross by the ones he came to save. Only from this image, it is hard to imagine what connection this has with our transgressions, and why it was done to save us from our sinful nature. By definition, sin is missing the target, which speaks of both accuracy and an intended goal. If by sin a person falls short of the mark, it is then valid to have questions on the nature of the ‘mark’, and also how to improve our ‘aim’. So, we may well ask of the purpose of the suffering and death of God made flesh. But Jesus’ sacrifice was not only carried out in the act of undeserved punishment, while he bore his cross under the jeering of the crowd, was nailed to it, and hung there for hours. People still suffer unfair treatments and continuous ailments, and in Jesus’ day crucifixion wa
s not uncommon; indeed, at that time and at that place two others were suffering the same thing. The sacrifice of Jesus, however, was consummate: The Apostle Paul, in Philippians Chapter 2 Verses 6 and 7, writes of Jesus,
“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” (NIV)
Jesus, though himself part of the Holy Trinity, did, like us, grow in his mother’s womb, was taught by the world around him, and subjected to desires and temptations beyond counting. Unlike the first humans in Eden, he did n
ot want or use equality with God, instead selecting a life of servitude, and unlike us he never sinned. Distinct from all other gods, and apart from all other religions, Christ made the entirety of the effort to ‘close the gap’ between creator and created, so we are justified as righteous through Christ and not by our actions. All our sins and failings were accounted for in the life of Christ, so that he provides the perfect example to follow- our target- and a way for us to shed our sins by forgiveness- the improvement in our aim. All this was achieved by Jesus’ life of sacrifice.