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Jesus: our supreme model of sacrifice

September 25, 2023

Daily Scripture

Hebrews 9:11-15

11 But Christ has appeared as the high priest of the good things that have happened. He passed through the greater and more perfect meeting tent, which isn’t made by human hands (that is, it’s not a part of this world). 12 He entered the holy of holies once for all by his own blood, not by the blood of goats or calves, securing our deliverance for all time. 13 If the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkled ashes of cows made spiritually contaminated people holy and clean, 14 how much more will the blood of Jesus wash our consciences clean from dead works in order to serve the living God? He offered himself to God through the eternal Spirit as a sacrifice without any flaw.
15 This is why he’s the mediator of a new covenant (which is a will): so that those who are called might receive the promise of the eternal inheritance on the basis of his death. His death occurred to set them free from the offenses committed under the first covenant.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

This week’s GPS continues to focus on the Bible reasons for Resurrection’s current “Generation to Generation” campaign. For more information as you prayerfully consider what commitment you want to make next weekend, click here.
You are also invited to a prayer vigil tomorrow at all Resurrection locations. To sign up, click here. If you’re not in town, you can use this Zoom link and the password RES at 6 p.m. Central time tomorrow.

Whoever wrote the letter to the Hebrews clearly knew about the system of sacrifices offered in the Temple and grasped their deeper meaning. The intended readers also had Jewish backgrounds and were tempted to go back to their childhood faith as they faced persecution (cf. Hebrews 12:3-4). The letter taught them that sacrifice was a part of the life of faith. Jesus himself gave us the ultimate model of that kind of life—he “offered himself.”

  • Often, we think of “sacrifice” in strictly financial terms. But the writer of Hebrews had much more in mind: “For the author of Hebrews, all OT sacrifices point toward Christ’s death…. Hebrews thus sees in Christ the end of the need for animal sacrifices. With Christ’s death, all sins can truly be cleansed.” * What made Christ’s sacrifice so much more effective than all others? You’re not the Messiah, of course—but how does Christ’s example challenge you to sacrifice to uplift others?
  • The Temple rituals (like any human rituals) couldn’t create the spiritual reality of reconciling people with God (cf. Hebrews 10:1-4). But Jesus’ self-giving was different, “securing our deliverance for all time” (verse 12). To what extent have you internalized that spiritual reality—that Jesus delivered you from sin and guilt “for all time”? How can you draw strength from that reality when your emotions lead you to feel insecure before God?

Lord Jesus, thank you for giving yourself to deliver me from this broken world (and my own inner brokenness) “for all time.” Use me as an instrument to share your deliverance with others. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Mindy LaHood

Mindy LaHood

Mindy LaHood serves as a Worship Experience Specialist at The Church of the Resurrection. She loves all things related to worship and enjoys working with our talented team of staff and volunteers. One of her favorite things to read about and study are stained glass windows, and she considers herself very blessed to work and worship in a place with such a magnificent window.

One of Mother Teresa’s quotes that has always held a special place in my heart is, “I have discovered the paradox that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”

While going through today’s GPS and its accompanying passages, this quote came to mind. It led me to start thinking about the concept of sacrifice, and how it often involves some degree of pain, discomfort, or suffering. Sacrifice involves giving something up, sometimes something very dear to us.

On my dad’s side, my grandmother used to work as a laundry attendant at the Holiday Inn in Charleston, Illinois, while my grandfather served as the head of maintenance at the same hotel. During my childhood, I didn’t think much about their jobs. My most vivid memories are of watching my grandmother meticulously fold bed sheets and towels, with the unmistakable scent of the laundry room and bleach etched in my mind. After her work was done, my brother and I had the privilege of going for a swim in the pool, under our grandmother’s watchful eye. We cherished this added benefit of our grandparents working there.

At that time, I never truly considered my grandparents’ financial status. They always appeared to have plenty to provide for my brother, cousins, and me. It wasn’t until my college graduation that I learned about a deeply touching sacrifice my grandmother made on my behalf.

Women of her generation frequented what she affectionately referred to as the “beauty salon” weekly, sometimes daily, where they had their hair washed and styled. I didn’t quite grasp the allure of this routine, but my grandmother relished those visits. It was less about the pampering and more about the time she was able to spend there with her friends. As I grew older, I noticed that she gradually reduced the frequency of these visits. I never asked her why; I simply assumed she had lost interest.

Fast forward a few years—I had completed college and started my first teaching job when my 90-year-old grandmother suffered a stroke from which she would never recover. While sitting with my grandfather at the hospital, our conversation somehow turned to her daily beauty salon visits. Curiosity prompted me to ask my grandpa why she had stopped going. He revealed that she had made a conscious decision to save the money she would have spent on those daily salon appointments to help cover part of my tuition. It wasn’t a substantial sum, but it was a profound sacrifice on her part. She gave up something she held dear to support my educational journey. She never said a word about it to me, but that small sacrifice held, and still holds, immeasurable significance in my heart.

My grandmother’s love for me ran so deep that she gave and sacrificed to the point of personal discomfort, ultimately expressing her love for me in an even more profound manner.

Sacrifice comes in various forms and magnitudes. Some sacrifices may appear more substantial than others. But all sacrifices require us to give something up, to forgo personal comfort, in order to benefit and bless others.

In this season of a Capital Campaign and Stewardship Commitments, I am seeking God’s guidance to discern what I can sacrifice to bless others, both now and for generations to come. My sacrifice may seem modest compared to others, but it’s not about the size of the sacrifice. It’s about the intentions of the heart and the desire to be a source of blessing to others through love.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Kenneth Schenk, sidebar note about “OT Sacrifices” in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 445 NT.