The birth of sacrifice

Sacrifice. It’s one of the best words to describe our God.

It’s when you put others before yourself. It’s when you pour out rather than fill up. It’s giving instead of getting.

Sacrifice is generally associated with death. One person dies, or gives up something, so another person can live, or have something.

As an evangelical, I have a tendency to rush Jesus to the cross. I’ve always heard people say—Jesus was born to die.

But think about this.

Jesus’ birth was a sacrifice. Jesus’ entire earthly existence was a way of giving up something so that we could get something.

At Christmas, the infinite God, completely unrestrained by space, finds Himself constrained to a 6-10 pound little body. The glorious God, accustomed to Heaven, ends up in a manger from which animals eat. The light of the world suddenly knew what it was like to feel cold. Our present help became helpless.

But think about even before Christmas. Jesus was an embryo. He lived for 9 months in a womb. John could not have been more literal when he wrote, “He became flesh and dwelt among us.” Or even literally… in us.

I think the hymn writer says it best. Jesus wasn’t born to die. He was born that men no more may die.

His whole life was a sacrifice, because His whole life was lived to give us life.

When you think about it like that, it makes Paul’s words in Romans 12 even more powerful. “Offer your bodies as living sacrifices,” he says.

You know why? Because that’s what Jesus did.

When Jesus…

  • Learned in the temple as a middle schooler…
  • Was baptized…
  • Went without food and water in the desert and overcame temptation…
  • Obeyed His mother’s orders at a wedding party…
  • Walked hundreds of miles from town to town to preach and heal…
  • Sat with little children…
  • Washed His friends’ feet…

… He was sacrificing. He was living so we could live.

Even His literal death on the cross was just a chapter in His life, not the end of it. Jesus’ death was a comma that occurred over and over throughout His life. He had taken up countless figurative crosses before He took the literal cross.

“Jesus was born to die.” Really? Or was Jesus’ living just so marked by sacrifice that it seemed like that?

He was living… so that we could live. So that men no more may die.

Imagine a life like that. A life so marked by sacrifice, that people confused your living as dying.

Christmas is where God’s sacrificial love shows up more clearly than it ever had before at that point in history.

When Jesus laid down in the manger he was picking up a cross.

What if we let that sink in?

Let’s worship Christ this Christmas by remembering and celebrating the sacrifice He made at His birth, and by becoming living sacrifices ourselves. This is your spiritual act of worship.

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