Substitutionary sacrifice

By Dave Henning / September 2, 2023

“To the degree that you grasp what Jesus did for you, and rest in the salvation he bought for you, to that degree this pattern of substitutionary sacrifice will be reproduced in your relationships.  And you will become the kind of person the world so desperately needs.”- Timothy Keller

“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 (NIV)

Timothy Keller concludes Chapter 10 of The Prodigal Prophet as he states that Jonah, in sacrificing himself to save the sailors, enacted one of the central themes of the Bible.  Hence, Pastor Keller considers tow aspects of this theme:

1.  Ethical – love should be self-giving.  Thus, we only live well in this world through sacrificial love.  Consequently, the New Testament writers infused a rather general Greek word for affection (agape) with new meaning.

Above all, Pastor Keller notes, the greatest contrasts between Western culture and Christianity occur exactly at this point.  Because our society uses a market-based definition of love.  Our culture defines love basically as a transaction for self-fulfillment.

2.  Theological – only Christ’s sacrificial love saves us eternally.  Most significantly, all life-changing love = substitutionary sacrifice.  So, think of someone who’s really made a difference in your life.  Because that person made a sacrifice, paid something, or bore something.  In order that you would not have to.

Therefore, Pastor Keller exhorts:

“A God who suffers pain, injustice, and death for us is a God worthy of our worship.  In a world of pain and oppression, how could we give our highest allegiance to someone who is immune to all that?  This is a God who knows what storms are like because he came into the world and dove straight into the greatest pain and suffering.  Because of his self-substitution, we can have life.”

Today’s question: Describe your grasp of Jesus’ substitutionary sacrifice.  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Bedrock truths of the Bible”

About the author

Dave Henning

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