Sacrifice : destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else ~ Merriam-Webster
Passover is a time that draws our hearts and minds to the sacrifice of Christ. We have been doing a lot of reflecting on that this past week. Scripture tells us to "offer sacrifices rightly, and put your trust in the Lord." Psalm 4:5. In Biblical times, very often that was grabbing the best of your livestock or crop and presenting it as a burnt offering. Fortunately, as most of us are both farm and livestockless, we don't live in that world anymore. Christ came as the perfect sacrifice. Romans 10:9 For this reason, sacrifices offered on a physical alter are no longer necessary, but disciples/followers of Christ have the opportunity and call to sacrifice every day. Christ made a world changing sacrifice. I think when many of us reflect on His sacrifice our minds are drawn directly to the cross, but His sacrifice was so much greater. He set the example of living a life completely obedient and submitted to God. He sought God's will in all things. He sacrificed, time, comfort, relationships and even His life, in an effort to serve His Father well, set an example, and save us. In Mark 1:35 the Bible states that, early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. With knowledge of what awaited Him, like hoards of people rushing Him desperate for healing and answers that only He could give, sleeping in would have been a peaceful escape, but that's not our Messiah. He made the most of every opportunity. I have seen many cinema presentations of the life of Christ. They often show Him casually wandering around peacefully fellowshipping, interspersed with having encounters with different groups...but how realistic is that? Years ago our family watched a presentation of Christ's life at Sight and Sounds. It got me tearing up long before they ever reached the cross. I never really thought of how chaotic and harassed His life was. In a scene where he had been walking, talking and healing on His way to a house to teach, He finally reached His destination to find people crowded around it. Luke 5 He made His way through the crowd and sat at a table to teach where He was offered something to eat and drink. My heart was glad to see Him finally rest, but this was short lived in that moments later the roof over His head was being sawed open to lower a paralytic. My stomach sank. The whole scene produced, what I am sure was the intended product, which is a reality check of what His life on Earth was like. He sacrificed from the moment He left the comfort of His Father and home in Heaven to be with us. When His mother asked Him to help with the wine at the wedding, John 2, He said, "my time has not yet come." My interpretation, once this ball started rolling He would have known it was the end of normal and peaceful existence. Mark 3:9 sees Christ asking for a boat to be ready for Him so the people would not "crush Him." Mark 4:36 says they sent away the multitude, took Him in the boat and other boats followed. Even the water provided no escape. Perhaps that explains the storm? It certainly would have made it harder for people to petition Him. The wind and the waves obey Him which means, the storm wasn't accidental... His days were full of healing, getting chastised, challenged and mobbed by people excited by the news that the Messiah had come. This culminated with the most precious light and life of Christ, submitting to being put through the mockery of a trial, torture and crucifixion which He sweat blood at just the thought of. Luke 22:44 Still, He willingly drank from that cup and by doing so changed the world and made a way for us. Even on the cross He was praying for forgiveness for His attackers, making arrangements for His mother and pardoning a repentant thief. Christ's example sets the bar for "sacrificing rightly." Reflecting on this has challenged my heart to daily make sure I set aside time, resources and myself to serve our perfect God and honor that sacrifice. A practical way we are doing this is spending time together, most mornings before the girls rise, deciding how our family can best serve God that day. As I write this we are fighting a virus and so are the girls so for the moment this will be challenging, but Christ's awesome example left us without excuse. We are using a planner to better plan out our time and "make the most of every opportunity." We found Brendan Burchard's High Performance Planner on Amazon. It is fantastic, easy to use and has been a great tool in helping us stay on schedule and live intentionally for Christ. Lord willing this coming week will have God saying, "it is good." :) If you would like to share how you have found ways to serve and make an impact for Christ in your community, please comment below. We are in the Sussex County, NJ area in case you have an organization with a specific need.
But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.