Atoning Sacrifice is a phrase and concept quite foreign to us. But the ancient Roman world understood this concept well. They lived in a world where their success or doom was dependent upon appeasing the anger of one of their many false gods (think Poseidon or Zeus). When they sacrificed an animal at the temple altar, this was intended to pacify the god’s anger.
Today’s passage refers to Jesus as our atoning sacrifice—God’s perfect wrath was fully appeased in the sacrifice of Jesus’ death on the cross. But Jesus’ sacrifice was vastly different from the sacrifices offered to the ancient Greek gods. The main difference: Jesus is God.
Unlike living in a system of fear—attempting to appease a certain god’s wrath—God, motivated by love, poured out his wrath on himself. He did this knowing we could not offer a sacrifice great enough to atone for our sins. This is an act of pure love. Jesus is our perfect lamb, the atoning sacrifice for our sin, bearing the perfect wrath of God.
Today, slow your thoughts and your heart to marvel at the mercy of this act. Jesus was God’s perfect and beloved Son. God laid on him every evil deed and wicked thought so we might be rescued. Listen to the song, “In Christ Alone” written by Keith Getty as you consider the sacrifice Jesus bore for us.