Jesus, the Perfect Sacrifice
In the aftermath of the sinking of the Titanic 110 years ago, several people reported the story of Reverend John Harper’s attempts to win a few last converts. Harper put his 6-year-old daughter in a lifeboat, but refused to get in himself, saying, “Let the women, children and the unsaved into the boat.” When he was offered a place in the boat, Harper replied, “Don’t worry about me, I am not going down but up.”
As he swam from person to person asking, “Are you saved?”, some replied “no.” John responded, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you shall be saved,” then he would swim off to speak to others. He returned to some who had initially said no and asked again, “Are you saved yet?” Some then replied, “yes.” When one man refused to accept Jesus, Harper took off his life jacket and gave it to him, saying, “Here then, you need this more than I do.” Harper’s demonstration of self-sacrifice inspired several to accept Jesus’ offer of salvation that night.
Without the perfect sacrifice of Jesus, we are just as lost as those doomed Titanic passengers. There’s nothing we can do to save ourselves. We need Jesus’ perfect sacrifice on our behalf to cover our sins. And yet, accepting that sacrifice really is as simple as the offer that Rev. Harper extended to his fellow passengers swimming for their lives in the frigid North Atlantic: Believe in the Lord Jesus and you shall be saved.
When we realize what Jesus sacrificed for us, that action reveals how important we are to God. Jesus risked everything for us. While on the cross, Jesus could not see through the black hole of the tomb. At that point, it wasn’t clear yet that Jesus’ perfect life would equate to a perfect sacrifice. The question, “Father, why have you forsaken me?” indicates the level of insecurity that Jesus wrestled with in those final minutes on the cross. Jesus’ resurrection, however, verifies the perfection of the sacrifice.
Though Jesus struggled with insecurity, because of that perfect sacrifice we can rest in the strong assurance that our salvation is secure.
Connecting: Is there something that your parents or guardians sacrificed for you as a child that you didn’t appreciate until you became an adult? How has this realization influenced your own relationships with others?
Sharing: Read Hebrews 7:23-28. How is it that Jesus’ sacrifice for us is perfect?
- Unlike the sacrifices performed by sinful human priests, Jesus, our eternal High Priest, lived a perfect, sinless life
- Even the best quality sacrificial lambs were still imperfect representations of the true Lamb of God
- Jesus’ sacrifice illustrates God’s perfect love for us; even though humans may lay down their lives to save others, sin still taints our actions
- The sacrifice is perfect because Jesus chose to submit to the cross, though legions of angels would have gladly launched a rescue effort at a moment’s notice
- The sacrifice is perfect because it means we don’t have to continue slaughtering animals at church
Applying: What would you say to someone who truly believed that they’d been too bad for Jesus to save them? Rehearse a few potential conversations in your mind where someone would give several possible reasons why God couldn’t love them. Consider what responses you could give to each scenario, so that you are ready for the moment when you have the opportunity to kindly say something.