When people talk about Jesus’ sacrifice, they tend to focus on the events
of Good Friday— his suffering and death. “ ‘He himself bore our sins’
in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for
righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed’ ” (1 Peter 2:24).
However, Jesus’ sacrifice
began much earlier than that. It began the moment he took human form.
According to Scripture, Jesus
is the Son of God. He is the One who spoke the universe into existence (see
Genesis 1; John 1:1–4). He breathed life into the human race. Jesus possessed
all the attributes of God. His presence dwarfed the universe. His power and
knowledge were limitless.
Yet Jesus willingly laid all
this aside in order to come to earth and dwell with his creation as a human
being. He left heaven for a life of rejection, ridicule, and betrayal on a
planet plagued by death and sin. He gave up autonomy and became a helpless
baby, entirely dependent on his mother for care. He allowed himself to
experience pain, sickness, exhaustion, humiliation, and ultimately death. He
submitted himself to physical restrictions like hunger and thirst. He squeezed
infinite presence into human flesh.
During his life on earth,
Jesus gave up the comforts of home and family in order to proclaim his kingdom
to others. He sacrificed his time and energy to teach, heal, comfort, and
Jesus transformed an
incalculable number of lives— but those changed lives came at a tremendous
personal cost. He was willing to pay that price for one reason: love. “This is
how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to
lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters” (1 John 3:16).
Before Jesus died on the cross, he laid down his life in
hundreds, even thousands, of smaller ways: a verbal
encouragement here; a healing touch there; a constructive reprimand; a social
visit; a word of insight into God’s nature; a loving gaze that said, “You may
feel overlooked by society, but I see you. I know you. You have value. You
instances of everyday love and sacrifice can resonate for a lifetime. That’s
why Jesus’ followers are urged to follow his example.
This blog post has been adapted from Walking with Jesus, which is a special-edition magazine that is available wherever magazines are sold in the USA.