JESUS CAN NEVER BE A SACRIFICE FOR SINS (2) Femi Aribisala


image

Jesus
will not
offer to
God the
sacrifices
he insists
will not
prevent people from perishing.

On the Mount of Transfiguration, God
the Father counsels that, henceforth,
we should only listen to Jesus. He
puts this to dramatic effect by having
Moses and Elijah, representing the
law and the prophets, appear to
speak to Jesus. A bright cloud
overshadows them and when it
clears, only Jesus remains. Then a
voice comes from heaven, saying:
“This is my beloved Son. Listen to
him.” (Mark 9:7).
Let me take the liberty to paraphrase
what God declares in this live
parable. He says: “Jesus is my Son:
Moses and Elijah are not. Listen to
my Son. Don’t bother to listen to
Moses and Elijah anymore.” In short,
Jesus the Son is God’s only true and
faithful witness. (Revelation 1:5).
Listen only to him.
Jesus himself cautions that, as the
Son of God, he is the only one who
truly knows the Father. (Matthew
11:27). He maintains servants are
fundamentally ignorant about the
master’s affairs. (John 15:15).
Moses, Elijah and others like them
are only servants of God.
Nevertheless, Christians have this
tendency to listen to everybody but
Jesus.

House of prayer

When we listen to Jesus, we discover
he would never offer any sacrifice for
sins because he insists sacrifices are
useless. Jesus starts and ends his
ministry by scattering the sacrificial
implements in the Temple. He
overturns the tables of the money-
changers and drives out those
selling doves for the sacrifices. Then
he declares: “It is written, ‘my house
shall be called a house of prayer,’
but you have made it a ‘den of
thieves.’” (Matthew 21:13).
By quoting Jeremiah 7:11, Jesus
validates the prophet’s position that
the sacrificial system is not of God.
Jeremiah writes: “Thus says the
LORD of hosts, the God of Israel:
‘Add your burnt offerings to your
sacrifices and eat meat. For I did not
speak to your fathers, or command
them in the day that I brought them
out of the land of Egypt, concerning
burnt offerings or sacrifices.’”
(Jeremiah 7:21-22).
Like Jeremiah before him, Jesus
maintains the Temple is “a house of
prayer;” as opposed to “a house of
sacrifices.” Indeed, the Temple was
the only place where sacrifices could
be offered. However, even at its
dedication, Solomon says nothing
about sacrifices. Instead, he
emphasises the need for repentance
prayers. He maintains that in order to
receive forgiveness, all that is
needed is to repent and pray towards
the Temple to God. (1 Kings
8:33-52).
He repeats this principle in Proverbs:
“Through love and faithfulness sin is
atoned for.” (Proverbs 16:6). “To do
what is right and just is more
acceptable to the LORD than
sacrifice.” (Proverbs 21:3). This
position is repeated time-and-again
in the prophets: “Take words with
you, and return to the LORD. Say to
him, “Forgive all our sins; receive us
graciously, for we will offer the
sacrifices of our lips.” (Hosea 14:2).
The psalmist concurs: “The LORD is
close to the broken-hearted and
saves those who are crushed in
spirit.” (Psalm 34:18).

Jesus’ ministry

Accordingly, Jesus, “the way, the
truth, and the life” (John 14:6),
maintains sacrifices are not the
means to salvation. He says: “Go and
learn what this means: ‘I desire
mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did
not come to call the righteous, but
sinners, to repentance.” (Matthew
9:12-13). In order to be saved,
Jesus insists we have to repent of
sin. Therefore, his ministry is
devoted to calling sinners to
repentance.
David has long declared this in the
psalms. He says to God in repenting
for his adultery with Bathsheba: “You
do not desire sacrifice, or else I
would give it; you do not delight in
burnt offering. The sacrifices of God
are a broken spirit, a broken and a
contrite heart- these, O God, you will
not despise.” (Psalm 51:16-17).
However, God despises sacrifices. He
says: “I have no need of a bull from
your stall or of goats from your pens,
for every animal of the forest is mine,
and the cattle on a thousand hills. I
know every bird in the mountains,
and the creatures of the field are
mine. If I were hungry I would not
tell you, for the world is mine, and all
that is in it. Do I eat the flesh of
bulls or drink the blood of goats?”
(Psalm 50:9-13).
Micah is equally scathing about the
sacrificial system: “Will the LORD be
pleased with thousands of rams, with
ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I
offer my firstborn for my
transgression, the fruit of my body
for the sin of my soul? He has
showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of
you? To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.”
(Micah 6:7-8).

Repent or perish

While some Galileans were offering
sacrifices, Herod killed them all.
Many found this confusing. They
wondered why God did not protect
them, seeing that they were offering
the sacrifices to God. The
presumptive answer was that their
sins must have been particularly
great. So they brought the matter to
Jesus. But Jesus insisted their sins
were no greater than those of others.
Their mistake was in offering useless
sacrifices instead of repenting of
their sins. When we ignore the will of
God and insist on our own counsels,
we cannot expect protection from
God.
Jesus then enunciates a great
salvation principle: “Repent or
perish.” He says to them: “Do you
suppose that these Galileans were
worse sinners than all other
Galileans, because they suffered
such things? I tell you, no; but
unless you repent you will all
likewise perish.” (Luke 13:2-3). If we
sacrifice, we will perish. If we repent,
we will not.
Therefore, it is ludicrous to maintain
Jesus is a sacrifice for sins. Jesus
will not offer to God the sacrifices he
insists will not prevent people from
perishing. This position is affirmed in
David’s messianic psalm: “Sacrifice
and offering you did not desire, but
my ears you have pierced; burnt
offerings and sin offerings you did
not require. Then I said, ‘Here I am, I
have come- it is written about me in
the scroll. I desire to do your will, O
my God; your law is within my heart.”
(Psalm 40:6-8).

Christian dilemma

The same mistake these Galileans
made is that which Christians are
making today. Quoting Isaiah
29:13-14; Jesus says of the Jews:
“In vain they worship me, teaching as
doctrines the commandments of
men.” (Matthew 15:9). Similarly,
Christians today are still relying on
sacrifices in order to obtain salvation,
when we should focus on
repentance. But now our fallacy is
even more heinous: we are relying
on the sacrifice of a human-being.
Jesus sent his disciples to go and
preach everywhere. When they
preached, they said absolutely
nothing about the need for sacrifices.
Instead, “They went out and
preached that men should repent.”
(Mark 6:12). When Jesus rose from
the dead, this did not change. He
gave the same mandate to his
disciples: “This is what is written:
The Christ will suffer and rise from
the dead on the third day, and
repentance and forgiveness of sins
will be preached in his name to all
nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”
(Luke 24:46-47).

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