The Sacrifice of Jesus Christ
God’s Call for Men to Sacrifice
At Eden, Adam failed in his calling to shamar (Hebrew, meaning to “protect and keep”) both the Garden and Eve (Gen 2:15). Rather than lay down his life in sacrifice to defend God’s place and the Woman, Adam allowed Satan into the Garden to seduce Eve (Gen 3). When God confronted Adam, he refused to sacrifice himself, instead Adam blamed Eve for his failure. God ejected them from the Garden, granting them the merciful consequence of pain, ensuring that Man would have to suffer and sacrifice as part of life. Adam’s offspring, Cain, offered God a displeasing sacrifice and instead of repenting, killed Able who offered a pleasing sacrifice (Gen 4:1-16). God’s called Abraham to ritual sacrifice (Gen 15), including his only son Isaac (Gen 22), and also called Moses, establishing the 10 Commandments and the institution of formal ritual sacrifice (Leviticus). God calls Man to sacrifice.
Modern Man’s Rejection of Sacrifice
Modern men are mired in a self-centered immaturity that rejects self-sacrifice. Overindulged, many men reject the sacrificial manhood God has built into their very nature, preferring an extended adolescent of comfortable consumption. Rather than taking up the faith of their fathers, millions of men are rejecting Christ and the Church, failing to stand against the Culture of Death. Rather than building a more just society, many reject education and career, choosing to live lives emerged in porn, sports, video games and partying. Rather than committing to marry, many prefer the casual sex hookup culture or living unmarried in sin. Men’s unwillingness to sacrifice for women and children has yielded generations of fatherless children and millions of children murdered in the womb. Modern men are failing to be the self-sacrificial protectors, providers and leaders God created them to be.
The Sacrifice of Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ is the Perfect Sacrifice, saving Man and providing a model for men to imitate. Jesus:
Infinitely lowers Himself in the Incarnation – The Eternal Word pre-exists with infinite existence and ability. The Creator sacrifices to become man, a heroic action to save all mankind from sin (John 3:16). He forgoes Heaven to take on the pain/suffering of human life.
Incarnates into poverty and chaos – He is born as a vulnerable little baby into poverty in the ‘backwaters’ of Galilee, the son of a carpenter, without religious pedigree or privilege, during the political domination of Jews by Romans and Herod, tyrannical puppet king.
Remains obedient to Mary and Joseph – The Genius of Jesus is evident at the age of 12 when He astounds the priests and scribes at the Temple with His Wisdom (Luke 2:41-52). Despite his superiority, He remains heroically obedient to his earthly parents for another 18 years.
Submits to Baptism by John – Despite being God and without sin, Jesus sacrifices to be identified with sinners when He lowers Himself to be baptized by John (Matt 3:13-17) for the sake of mankind.
Suffers in the Wilderness – Voluntarily sacrifices when called by the Holy Spirit to go into the Wilderness without provisions for 40 days. Surviving the ordeal, He resists Satan’s temptations and forces Satan to “be gone” (Matt 4:1-11), symbolically connecting with Israel’s trial in the desert.
Chooses to live among the poor – Choosing men who appear to be unlikely leaders (e.g. fisherman, tax collector, without education, etc.), Jesus lives among the poor and rejects attempts to make Him king (John 6:15).
Submits Himself to ridicule by sinners – Throughout His ministry, Jesus is repeatedly challenged, harassed and hunted by Jewish leaders who seek to kill Him. He does not yield.
Reaches out to the “unclean” – After the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus touches and heals an unclean leper (Matt 8:1-4), heals the slave of a Centurion (enemy and Gentile) and exorcises a demoniac in Gentile lands (8:28-34). By doing so, Jesus willingly accepts being shunned and hated by many Jews.
Endures a grueling life – Jesus spends three years in a grueling ministry that is physically challenging, traveling long distances, working long hours with minimal comforts and constantly giving Himself to all who seek Him.
Sacrifices Himself on the Cross – Despite the common knowledge of the brutality of crucifixion, and His own perfect knowledge of what He would endure, Jesus willingly submits to beating, scourging, taunting, humiliation and crucifixion. He sacrifices dignity, His righteous right to glory and His physical life. He endures the injustice and horror of being killed by His own children. He witnesses the betrayal and denial of those closest to Him. In His heroic Sacrifice on the Cross, Jesus takes on the sins of all men and redeems all men willing to repent (CCC 616-17).
Forgoes Heaven for a time – After His brutal death, He is buried in the ground and then descends to Hell to free the just who had come before Him (CCC 633). After the Resurrection, Christ returns to provide proof of His Resurrection and encouragement to His disciples (Lk. 24:13-53).
Continues to give Himself in the Eucharist – Christ continues to return to every Mass to give of Himself in the Real Presence of the Eucharist (CCC 1322-1419). Christ is the “source and summit of Christian life” that contains the “whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ Himself” (CCC 1324). The Holy Sacrifice “makes present the one sacrifice of Christ the Savior” (CCC 1330), mysteriously re-presenting the single Sacrifice of Christ in the Eucharist (CCC 1367).
Calls men to self-sacrifice – Saying, “Be perfect as Your Father in Heaven is perfect” (Matt 5:48), Christ calls men to the perfection of self-sacrifice. Catholic men are called to the self-sacrificial life of being “priest, prophet and king” (CCC 783) for their families which includes the sacrifice of daily prayer, the commitment to keep the 10 Commandments, repentance and Confession, keeping the Sabbath, leading the family to weekly Mass and to actively make disciples for Christ. The Church exhorts men to devotion to Christ’s own father, St. Joseph, who is the human model of self-sacrifice for all men (Quamquam Pluries; Redemptoris Custos).