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Monday, December 13, 2010

A Living Sacrifice

Jesus died on the cross for my sins.  This is called the ultimate sacrifice.  It is what should convince me of God’s love for me—that he gave his only son.  It should motivate me to repent of my sins—to be washed in the blood of the Lamb.  But like in some other matters, I find myself a contrarian.  I much prefer a living sacrifice.  While I can imagine, for example, a scenario in which my mother and father could have died for me, I am thankful that neither did nor had to.  Instead, they lived to bring me up and I was in the continual benefit of their love, of their living sacrifice.  Just so with Jesus; Herod could have killed him as a baby and that could have constituted a sacrificial death.  But I am grateful that Jesus lived—that he became the living, demonstrative Word of Life.  It is through Jesus’s life and ministry that I understand what love is, just as I have a much fuller understanding of parental love since my parents lived to raise me day in and day out.  When Jesus told the truth in the face of falsehood, he showed his love. When he endured ridicule and hatred, he showed his love.  When he preached the Sermon of the Mount, he showed his love.  When he revealed the nature of the Father and the nature of man through parables, he showed his love.  When he healed the sick, he showed his love.  When he raised the dead and gave sight to the blind, he showed his love. In other words, his life and actions are for me the Living Word.  His death on the cross reveals more about the ignorant cruelty of the world—“they know not what they do”—than the nature of love.  Hatred is what is blind and brings death.  Love is insightful and brings life.  Death is not the climax of Jesus’s life on earth; rather the highpoints of his life were among the lilies of the field when he was shepherd of his flock.  I do not wish to be washed in the blood.  I want to witness the courage of love as exemplified in his daily life.  Eternal life is a matter of overcoming daily death.  The ultimate sacrifice is not to die, but to live each day with faith, love, and conviction.  “Don’t die for me,” Jesus seemed to say, “Rather, live for me and bear much fruit.”

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