Day 3

Jesus Is The True & Better Abel

from the Advent 2015: Born Is The King reading plan

Genesis 4:1-16, Romans 3:21-26, Ephesians 2:13

BY Andrea Lucado

Text: Genesis 4:1-16, Romans 3:21-26, Ephesians 2:13

The imagery of sacrifice is all around us.

With the passing of a new season, we watch as death makes way for new life. In winter, the earth dries up and lies dormant in order for spring to birth vibrant greens and all the colors of life in bloom. Even the daily bread we eat is from wheat that has been plucked from the ground, crushed, and made into flour for our life’s sustenance. Out my window in downtown Nashville I see an old office building, vacated long ago, being torn down to create space for something newer and shinier—something people can occupy once again.

The first image of sacrifice in Scripture shows up in Genesis 4, the tragic story of the brothers Cain and Abel. Both make offerings to God. Cain brought Him produce, and Abel brought Him the firstborn of his flock. God is pleased with Abel but not with Cain, not because Abel’s gift was better, but because Cain’s heart was not pure.

God’s favor lies with Abel, and Cain’s response is “furious” and “despondent” (Genesis 4:5). This leads him to murder his brother in the field, Abel’s blood crying out from the ground to God in condemnation of Cain’s act (Genesis 4:10).

An innocent man dies as a consequence of his brother’s sin.

Sound familiar?

In Romans, Paul writes about someone else’s sin: yours and mine. “There is no one righteous,” he says, “not even one… All have turned away” (Romans 3:10,12). Then in verse 21, just when it seems all is lost for humanity, Paul writes two incredibly beautiful words:

“But now…”

The “but now” is hope. The “but now” is the beginning of our new story, as winter is to spring and as grain is to bread. We were sinners who turned away and were called unrighteous, but now we are “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:26).

In Romans 3, we learn what Jesus’ sacrifice meant for us and means for us still. It can be summed up in three simple yet rich words: justification, redemption and propitiation.

 Justification means we have been made righteous under the covering of Christ: “They are justified freely by His grace…” (v. 24).

Redemption means we have been purchased by Christ and, therefore, are now free. “…through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (v. 24).

Propitiation means God’s wrath toward sin has been satisfied by the sacrifice of Christ. “God presented Him as a propitiation through faith in His blood to demonstrate His righteousness” (v. 25).

Abel’s death did not accomplish these things. He was innocent, but he was not without sin. He died, but he did not lay down his life for another. His blood cried out injustice and condemnation for his brother, Cain.

Jesus is the true and better Abel. He was not merely innocent; He was sinless. His life was not taken from Him; He gave it willingly. His blood cries out in satisfaction of justice and for our justification. Christ’s pure sacrifice accomplished what no other could—the full and forever forgiveness of our sin.

The hard earth of winter, the grinding of wheat, the rubble of an old building strewn on the ground—these symbols of sacrifice in our everyday lives are there for a reason. They are a constant living and dying reminder of Christ’s sacrifice, of His blood that bought and brought us new life. They remind us of our freedom. They tell us we are forgiven.

The sacrifice is done. The price? It’s been paid. And it’s all—and always will be—because of Jesus.


Post Comments (176)

176 thoughts on "Jesus Is The True & Better Abel"

  1. Helen says:

    Does anyone have further thoughts on why God’s wrath can only be satisfied by Jesus’ perfect sacrifice? (Eg and why can’t God just forgive all sin and we be reconciled anyway?) I see that it seems intuitive to the usual sense of justice that sin, hurt and pain can’t be trivialised and need to be paid for because God is a just god but also don’t really feel like I have deep understanding (not saying that I should because we have to trust God with many things, but it is an issue that comes up when talking to non-believers especially as well)

    1. Helen says:

      Or if anyone could point me to resources about this ! :) thanks!!

      1. Alex says:

        Hi Helen! So this is a very complicated question and is very difficult to explain. But I will try to explain and also give you a resource that I think explains it well. You have the right idea. To start you have to understand that God is a completely holy God which means that He can not be around humans who are sinful. So He had to find a way to make us holy. He is also a completely just God which means He can’t just forgive us because we see in Romans 6:23 that the wages of sin is death. There is a wage that must be paid in order for us to be holy. Someone had to pay our wage to get to heaven. In the Old Testament animal sacrifices were given to help cover sin but they never paid full price. Only a perfectly holy sacrifice would be able to take our sins so that we could be with a holy God (2 Cor 5:21). It seems like He should just be able to forgive but I think that as humans we don’t fully understand how bad sin really is and it can’t just be forgiven because that it is not justice and God calls for Justice because that is who He is. There is a punishment for sin and that is death. That is why Christ had to come and die. I hope that helps a little. Here is a link to some more information.

        1. Helen says:

          Thank you Alex for you reply and the website, both are very helpful!

    2. Jane says:

      Hi Helen,
      My understanding is that the consequence of sin is death, separation from God. Because God is holy he requires that this debt be paid. He cannot have anyone or anything in his presence that is not holy. E would be destroyed – look at Moses encountering God on the mountain as an example. In the OT, the sacrificial system was designed to restore the people’s relationship with God, to wash them of their sin, in fact it required the sacrifice of an animal (innocent blood) to do so. but it couldn’t do it fully.
      In the NT, we realise that God has sent Jesus to die in our place, taking our sin on him, dying he death that we deserve. (Thus God himself, through Jesus has created a way for us to be reconciled to him, we just need to accept this gift) Then when he rose again, he defeated death, enabling us to be not only reconciled with God, but to receive the gift of eternal life.

      Gosh sorry this is quite long, hope it makes sense!

      1. Kayla says:

        This is a perfect explanation thank you !!

      2. Helen says:

        Thank you Jane! This does make a lot of sense and has helped me lots :)

  2. Sarah says:

    I have ways been confused by this!

    1. Alex says:

      What is it that confuses you?

  3. Janel says:

    Has anyone one studied creation in depth? If Adam and Eve and their children were the first family who is it that Cain is afraid to run into that might kill him once he’s banished? Who are these other people and where’d they come from?

    1. DréaMarie says:

      I was wondering the same!

      1. Alex says:

        Well in the story we don’t really know how old Cain and Abel were and we also don’t know how many siblings they had. That being said it is presumed that Adam and Even had more children then Cain, Abel and Seth because they all had to have gotten married and had children. So I have heard it explained (and this is only really one idea) that Cain could have been scared of his siblings that would have wanted to kill him for killing thier brother. Seeing that we don’t know how old the brothers were Adam and Eve may have already had a lot of more children, these two were just thier first children.

        1. Shawn says:

          I can understand that idea. Thanks for sharing.

        2. Megan says:

          Along with that you have to keep in mind that before the flood people lived to be hundreds of years old. Adam and Eve could have had grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren, and even deeper into the pool. So the earth was populating rapidly, despite only starting with two!

      2. Great point! Thanks for explaining.

    2. Jen says:

      I have not studied the bible in depth for sure, but I’ve wondered that sand thing too. If found an explanation that makes some sense- although it is an assumption. This is the link:

      1. Jen says:

        *same not sand!

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