Do religious sacrifices still exist?

With the fall of Jerusalem in a.d. 70 came the total destruction of its temple, the place where Jesus and his disciples came often to worship and pray. As the great altar in the courtyard was destroyed, the sacrifices also ceased once and for all and have never been resumed.

Animals no longer need to be ritually slain. Jesus Christ was chosen by his heavenly Father to be the great Lamb of God, whose death on Calvary took away the sin of the world. The deaths of animals were only advance shadows of the real thing, and Good Friday’s awesome events made them no longer necessary.

So has the concept of sacrifice gone away? Not at all! St. Paul has a challenge for you: “I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12:1). Man-made religions are transactional—you perform good works or religious rituals in order to get something from a deity.

Only in Christianity did God go first, essentially reestablishing a relationship with his lost children through the birth, life, suffering, death, and resurrection of his Son. Christ’s total commitment to us invites our total commitment back to him. He trusts us with that gift. Our lives of worship and service back to him are our sacrifices, living sacrifices that help other people and please him.

Pastor Mark Jeske has been bringing the Word of God to viewers of Time of Grace since the program began airing in late 2001. A Milwaukee native, Pastor Jeske has served as the senior pastor at St. Marcus, a multicultural congregation on Milwaukee’s near north side since 1980. In addition, he is the author of six books and dozens of devotional booklets on various topics.

 

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