The Sacrifice

An excerpt from one of Peter's short books.

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose bruise you were healed. (1 Peter 2:24)


Al YHWH, al Ázazel, and the high priest all typified different aspects of Jesus’ mission. Many times Jesus had foretold of his death on the cross. Just before his last passover, he said to the disciples, “You know that in two days is the passover, and the son of man will be betrayed to be crucified” (Matthew 26.2). He didn’t shrink from this end. He had told them that it was his choice to lay his life down, and that he laid it down willingly, both for them and for us (John 10:15).

At his last passover, once Judas left the table to betray him and the supper had ended, Jesus took his disciples over to Gethsemene. While the group was making its way to the garden, Jesus was filled with terror—he was realizing the weight of becoming sin on the cross, of the Father laying on him the sin of the world like the high priest did with the goats. When they made it to the garden, he needed solitude.

“My soul is exceedingly sorrowful unto death; tarry here and watch.”

Stepping away about a stone’s throw, the terror seized him, and he prayed with screams and tears.

“Father! Father! Isn’t there any other way? Please, please let this cup pass from me!”

The Father always heard him, he knew that, but he didn’t hear an answer. He pressed on.

“Father! Let this cup pass! But not my will, but yours.”

He was so taxed—his body, heart, and mind so seethed with horror that his blood burst through the capillaries under his skin, flooding over him and falling as drops of sweat to the ground. An angel appeared to strengthen him and burnish his resolve.

“Is there no other way? Is there no other way? Please! But, Father, not my will! Yours be done.”

The Father didn’t answer because there was no other way; mankind could only receive the light of new life through the sacrifice of his cross.

In the end, he set his face to follow through. He’d trust the Father to resurrect him out of the dead, when he had paved the way for every man, woman, and child to be born again (see Romans 4.25). So when Judas appeared with a phalanx of soldiers and betrayed him with a kiss, and Peter pulled his sword, Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Peter, put your sword away. Think that I’m not able to call on my Father, and he’d give me more than twelve legions of angels?” The authorities and powers took him and held him in bonds, but only because he decided to lay down his life. When he offered himself up, he did so as a lamb—sinless, without any spot or blemish. But when he yielded himself to being made sin, he took on the type of the goats. Like the high priest that stepped forward to lay the people’s sin on the goats’ heads, the Father laid on him the sins of us all. Isaiah saw it:

Yahweh has caused to light on him the iniquity of us all. Despised he was, and forsaken of men. A man of pains, familiar with sickness. Like one from whom we hid our faces.

He was pierced for transgressions that were ours. Crushed for iniquities that were ours. The chastisement for our well-being was upon him. But it pleased Yahweh to crush him.

The people could hear him in the blackness.

Dogs have surrounded me. The mob of the wicked has enclosed me. They’ve pierced my hands and my feet. They divide up my clothes and gamble for my robe.

All that see me laugh me to scorn. They shoot out their lip: He trusted in God, Let him save him seeing he delighted so much in him.

My God! My God! how you’ve left me! How you’re so far from helping me. So far from the words of my roaring!

So many bulls have circled me. Strong bulls of Bashan have beset me. They gape at me with their mouths. Like a lion, ripping and roaring.

I’m poured out like water. My bones, all out of joint, My heart is like wax that’s melted in the midst of my bowels, My strength is gone, dried up like a potsherd, My tongue cleaves to my mouth.

The sin had so disfigured him that he no longer looked like a man (Isaiah 52.14).

I am but a worm and no man. A reproach of men, despised by all. I’m brought down to the dust of death.

But our fathers trusted in you! They trusted in you and you delivered them! I’ll declare your name! I’ll declare your name in the congregation and praise you! I’ll serve you and you’ll count it for generations!

Just before he expelled his last breath—committing himself to the Father to resurrect him—he declared, “It is finished.” Ministers point to these words, and the tearing of the temple’s veil to say that the mission was over; redemption was had. But while the cross stands as where Jesus was made sin, it doesn’t stand as redemption’s finale.

There isn’t any expiation of sin without the shedding of blood, but shedding isn’t defined as the simple flow of blood. The high priest didn’t consummate atonement by slashing al-YHWH’s throat and leaving it in a bowl. He had to take it behind the veil, the holiest place, and ceremoniously sprinkle it before the Lord on the Mercy Seat. It was only when he had done this that atonement was found. In the same way, the mere flow of Jesus’ blood on the cross by itself didn’t redeem mankind; his blood had to be ceremoniously presented before the Father before redemption could be had (remember Paul’s black-letter scripture that resurrection was necessary for salvation). Thus, when Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” he wasn’t signaling the end of his work; he was marking the end of the Levitical priesthood with its imperfect sacrifices of the Day (see Matthew 10:38 – “Your house will be left unto you desolate.”). This old covenant with its goats and calves had to be done away with before the new covenant, with its provision for the second birth, could be installed (Hebrews 8:13).

Though it was divinely inspired, the Levitical system was imperfect (Hebrews 8:7). Its priests were all subject to death, so the priesthood was constantly subject to change. They also had to make atonement for their own sin. And while the system could generally cover sin, it could only from year to year; it didn’t have the capacity to cleanse men’s consciences and give them new life (Hebrews 7.18; 9.9). God set it in place, not as a permanent structure, but as a temporary school master to remind man of his sin and separation, and as a shadow of the superior covenant, the one anchored by precious blood and an indestructible high priest that Jesus would install once he was resurrected.

GospelPeter Smythe