lENT 2021 bIBLE rEADING PLAN
April 1st: Sacrifice and Atonement -- Dr. Tim Mackie (bibleproject.com)
Animal sacrifice is one of those things in the Bible that can be hard for modern readers to come to terms with. Though it may seem strange, animal sacrifice was a common practice across the ancient world. The practice is introduced in the Bible in Genesis 22 when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son as an act of surrender. Wait, what?! Let’s back up. God had promised Abraham that he would bless the world through his family, but instead of trusting and surrendering to God, Abraham tried to fulfill the promise on his own. This led to broken relationships, oppression, and violence. So God tested Abraham to see if he would give up his way and trust in God’s way. And Abraham trusted God, following his instruction to sacrifice his son, and, right on time, God provided a ram as a sacrificial substitute.
The story of Abraham and the practices of sacrifice in the Torah all point us to Jesus. Jesus followed God’s plan for blessing the world and became the sacrificial substitute. And Jesus’ sacrifice is one we can rely on. When we go to the mountain to sacrifice ourselves to God, we’ll find Jesus there offering himself in our place. In this week’s study, we’ll reflect on the concept of becoming “living sacrifices” in response to Jesus’ ultimate act of sacrifice.
Read and Discuss
Video Question: How did the video help you further appreciate or understand Jesus’ sacrifice?
Read Romans 12
In the letter to the Romans, Paul writes about Jesus’ sacrificial mercies towards us and invites us to put our hope in these mercies. In light of what Jesus sacrificed, Paul calls us to offer ourselves as “living sacrifices” in response. This means relying on what Jesus has already accomplished through the cross and joining in his sacrificial lifestyle—becoming like him. This is a totally different way to live because the world teaches us to pursue goodness, pleasure, and perfection apart from Jesus. When we become living sacrifices, we are transformed by the good, pleasing, and perfect will of Yahweh, leading to a life of sacrificial love and humility that serves others and overcomes evil with good.
Question 1: What stood out to you most in this chapter?
Question 2: What happens to our communities when we rely on Jesus’ sacrifice but neglect to join him in a sacrificial lifestyle? Why is belief and action so important?
Question 3: Paul gives some practical guidance for what it means to be a living sacrifice. A transformed lifestyle includes a humble mindset (3-5), that serves in community (6-13), and overcomes wrongdoing with good (14-21). How did Jesus model and empower this lifestyle? How is this lifestyle different from what you’ve seen in the world, and how does it display Yahweh’s good, pleasing, and perfect will?
Question 4: What is one area where you relate more to the world’s lifestyle than to Jesus’ humble, serving, and overcoming lifestyle? Pray for a renewed mindset.
Question 5: Jesus’ humble sacrifice made us one in him. Reflect on the connection between sacrifice, humility, and unity in verses 1-5. What happens to unity when all members are not honored as equally valuable? What is one sacrificial act of humility you can do this week to build unity in your church or family?