Good Friday is the day when Christians around the world celebrate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ as God’s sacrifice for sin. According to the Talmud, Israel believed any sacrificial act was comprised of three parts — giving, substitution and participation.
The giving was not just about presenting the sacrifice, but presenting it with the appropriate motive. Both the gift and attitude had to be correct.
Substitution was the recognition the experience of the sacrifice should have been that of its presenter. The punishment for sin is death, so the animal’s death was understood to take the place of the presenter who was guilty of sin.
Participation took place by eating a portion of the sacrifice. Although the act of sacrifice performed by the priest was considered participation with God, the giver of the sacrifice could become one with God by eating a part of what they presented.
There are many correlations between Israel’s understanding of sacrifice and what we understand about the death of Jesus.
Being perfect, Jesus gave himself out of loving obedience to His Father.
Jesus willingly substituted himself for humankind. He was sinless, yet he died for our sins so that we would no longer be guilty of them.
The participation is experienced in Holy Communion (the Church’s celebration when we eat Jesus flesh and drink his blood). As the Apostle Paul explained, "Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?" (1 Co. 10:16).
Pastor Mark Holmes is an ordained minister in the Wesleyan Church and has served the Darrow Road Wesleyan Church since 1997.