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Sacrifice and Atonement
Themes
6:51
What's the deal with animal sacrifice in the Bible? This is a rich ancient symbol that points to God's atoning love for his people.

Questions for Personal Reflection or Group Discussion:

  1. Imagine a world of peace, justice, and love. In a world like this, how would people communicate with one another? How would people spend time and money? How would authority figures use their power?
  2. When people neglect to act with peace, justice, and love, it wreaks havoc—we call this evil. What is one way our relationships and the surrounding environment suffer from evil (e.g., Gen. 4:10-12, Rom. 8:22-23)?
  3. In order to heal this suffering, something first must be done to remove the evil. But what would happen if God removed everything contributing to the evil in the world? Would anyone remain alive? Discuss this predicament as a group and, if needed, review the video (0:22-1:07).
  4. Discuss how God resolves this predicament through animal sacrifice and later through Jesus’ sacrifice. What does animal sacrifice represent? What is one way that Jesus is a more perfect sacrifice? Review the video or dive deeper by reading Hebrews 9:6-14.
  5. Read Matthew 26:26-28. What is one practical way we can remember Jesus’ sacrifice? What is one specific way we can imitate Jesus’ sacrifice and repair relationships (e.g., John 15:9-13, Matt. 5:23-24, and Col. 3:12-14)?
To understand sacrifice, we must understand evil.

Despite the fact that most humans long to live in a world where goodness and justice prevail, something always compels us to wreak havoc and destruction—we call this evil. Evil ruins relationships, with each other and with God. And for those relationships to be made whole again, we must set right what evil has destroyed.

We can now join in Jesus' sacrifice.

Our Christian traditions mirror the atoning act of Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection into new life. Like Jesus, who was lowered into the grave and rose again, Christians join in the practice of being lowered into the water in baptism, where we rise up out in a new life. We also remember Jesus’ sacrifice when we take the eucharist, or the Lord’s supper. We reenact Jesus’ last meal with his disciples, where he said that his body was to be broken for humanity, that his blood was to be spilled for all of God’s people.

We join in these rituals still today to remember Jesus’ permanent, atoning sacrifice that restored us to God and set right all that had been destroyed.

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