An All-Sufficient Sacrifice
Open Your Bible
Isaiah 1:11, Isaiah 1:18, Isaiah 53:2–12, John 1:29, Hebrews 9:11-14, Hebrews 10:1-14
Editor’s Note: This devotional has been edited from an earlier version.
The first time I went to China, I was caught off guard by the differences in the grocery stores I visited. The meat and seafood are exposed, and the smells of fresh meat were foreign to me. I’m used to shopping for meat in the refrigerated section of an American grocery store, where I’m able to forget for a moment the uncomfortable truth that this shrink-wrapped meat used to be alive.
The Bible is full of uncomfortable truth. God taught the Israelites, His chosen people, that in order to draw close to Him, blood must be shed. I don’t know why. Blood is a gift to us from our Creator; it courses through our veins, delivers oxygen to our organs, keeping us alive. Blood is a sign of life, but when it is spilled, it is a sign of death. Blood is a physical symbol of a spiritual reality. And yet, in Isaiah 1:11 God exclaims, “I have had enough of burnt offerings.” What is this? Did He change the rules? God taught His people that sacrifices were needed to bridge the gap, but even those sacrifices fell short. Our best efforts—even our efforts to follow God—fall short.
So what are we to do? God gave us the prescription for peace: bloodshed. And yet, even those sacrifices became a stench as potent as death in His nostrils. To cover my sin once and for always, I needed a better sacrifice, a perfect one. A more innocent source of blood. A truly spotless Lamb.
The truth is uncomfortable. For me to have peace, Jesus had to endure pain. For me to find solace with God, Jesus had to suffer alone. For me to be in heaven, Jesus had to die. The Lord was pleased to do this (Isaiah 53:10). It doesn’t mean that God is blood-thirsty and cruel. It means that He loves me so much that His own suffering pales in comparison with the joy that He takes in being near to me. Rather than allowing me to fester in my insufficient, futile sacrifices or wallow in dead works, He came down from heaven and made one last, final sacrifice. He spilled the source of life in order to drown my death. He bore my sickness, so that I might be healed.
I am grateful that I live on this side of the cross. Because of Jesus, my life is relatively bloodless. There are no more bloody sacrifices to make on my behalf or yours in order to atone for our sin. But let us never forget that Christ’s blood is what purchased this freedom from death. God had a plan all along, one that placed the ultimate suffering on His own shoulders, and the ultimate peace on mine. Amen.
Claire Gibson is a writer whose work has been featured in publications including The Washington Post and Entrepreneur Magazine, among many others. An Army kid who grew up at West Point, New York, Claire is currently growing roots in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, Patrick, their son, Sam, and their dog, Winnie. Her debut novel, Beyond the Point, will be published April 2 and is available for pre-order now.