Was it a human sacrifice offered by Christ to appease the anger of God? Was it like the animal sacrifices made by the ancient Jews so that the life-blood of the animals, sprinkled over the penitents, would cleanse them of their sins? The Jews sought to appease God's anger by killing an animal, such as a lamb or a goat, and offering it to him as a sacrifice. They believed that their sins were breaches of the covenant made between God and the Jewish nation, and that somehow the sacrifice of an animal's life would heal the breach. Since an animal could not sin, it was undefiled, and its life was acceptable as a sacrifice. The people thought that the animal's life was contained in its blood and that the sprinkling of blood on the penitents during the sacrifice ritual would cleanse them from the defilement of their own sins. This, they believed, would make them once again acceptable to God and heal the breach of the covenant.
But Christ's death led to an understanding that God's anger was not appeased by the sacrifices of animals. The early Christians came to believe that because sinners were people, not animals, only the life-blood of a human being could atone for their sins; and it had to be a human being who was himself undefiled by sin. Only Christ, the man without sin, was capable of making the proper sacrifice to God for the sins of mankind, and it is his blood that cleanses sinners from defilement, so it came to be believed, thereby establishing a new covenant between God and man.
But this explanation is unacceptable to modern men and women. The idea of animal sacrifice is so primitive and so foreign to the modern mind, that a suggestion that God's anger at the sins of mankind could be mollified by such a sacrifice, and a human one at that, is simply incredible. The God we believe in is not one who is appeased by the killing of a living being, animal or human. The crucifixion as a sacrificial offering is just not something that a rational person living in this modern scientific age can relate to.
Back to Introduction.