Annual Conference Sunday School Lesson, Cont.
How is Christ as a high priest differ from other high priests? How does the sacrifice differ from the animal sacrifices described in the Hebrew Bible?
- Christ offered himself willingly – the animals life was taken from it; Christ gave his life
- Jesus was the flawless sacrifice – he was human in every way we are, and yet he was without sin
- Jesus was both the high priest and the sacrifice
- This sacrifice is once and for all – it does not need to be repeated
- This sacrifice was one of love.
- William Barclay says Christ’s sacrifice changes a person’s consciences – releases a person from the burden of sin – it frees us and brings us into communion with God.
Take a look at the idea of blood as life.
What is blood? It is life. For the Israelites, blood was a precious gift that symbolized the essence of life. God prohibited the Israelites from consuming blood. Blood is life – and when our life is over, the blood of Christ continues to bring us life.
Think about Holy places
We’ve talked today about the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. Christ’s sacrifice brings us into the presence of God and expands the Holy of Holies.
- Tell the story of Alex and the movie.
- Tell the story of the mission in California
- Tell the story of Spring Heights.
Can you tell about a holy place for you? Where are the thin places where you meet God?
What does all of this mean when we look at it in connection with the building we call Church?
Talk about our need for the rituals
- Why do you think there was a system of sacrifices for the Israelites in the first place? Did God need them? Or did the Israelites? How hard is it to accept the idea that we are forgiven?
- We read in John “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” I believe that. I believe God sent his son. But I also believe – although I do not understand it – in the trinity. In sending his son, God came, and became human, and died for us on a cross.
- And in a faith that is full of contradictions (human and divine, now and not yet), could it be that the sacrifice of Jesus was not a requirement of God’s to cleanse us, but a requirement we placed on God in order for us to be convinced. Heb 9:14a (CEB) says, “how much more will the blood of Jesus wash our consciences clean from dead works in order to serve the living God.”
- What more effective demonstration of love could there be that God suffering and dying for us – does that not convince us that we are loved and forgiven? Could it be that the crucifixion was necessary in order to convince us of God’s love for us?
Talk about the cost of forgiveness
How easy is it to forgive someone else? I’m not talking about when someone does something that can be explained away. For example, your friend misses your birthday party because she got stuck in traffic. Or there is a misunderstanding between two people due to miscommunication – those don’t need forgiveness.
How easy is it to forgive the young boy who bullies your son? How easy is it to forgive the person who breaks into your car and steals your radio? How easy is it for a woman to forgive her rapist? How easy it is to forgive someone?
Forgiveness is costly. It brings tears, anguish, and a broken heart. William Barclay says, “Forgiveness is never a case of saying, ‘It’s all right; it doesn’t matter.’ It is the most costly thing in the world. Without shedding the heart’s blood, there can be not forgiveness….Where there is forgiveness, someone must be crucified.” And there are times when we must do it in order to be free – and yet we cannot do it alone. The fact that we are forgiven opens up for us the relationship with God so that God can give us the power and strength to make the sacrifice ourselves to forgive someone else.