When the Ark of the Covenant was placed into its special place, in the most holy place of which the tribes of Israel could create, it was recorded that so many sheep and cattle were sacrificed that there number could not be counted. What a way to revere the Almighty! In those days, animal sacrifice was a way of honoring God. The thought being that God demanded sacrifice, namely giving up food which could not then be consumed by humans, as proof of our love of the Divine One. Today, that would be absurd. Instead, the words and meanings of “love” and “sacrifice” are still bound together, whether it be in God’s name or for those who we hold closest to us.
The issue most of us have with the word…and meaning…and love is that it implies sacrifice in one way or another. Not in the old meaning of giving up our food by way of animal sacrifice (most people would probably see that as cruel and even evil). Yet, to love does mean to sacrifice, at least to some degree, our selfish ways to be in service to another…whether that other be God or someone else. We may see this as a joyful occasion, as it was in the passage, and the very best that we could offer onto that other.
The term, Ultimate Sacrifice, has come to mean giving up one’s own life to save another, as in a firefighter who made the ultimate sacrifice when he died rescuing a young child from a fire. We may agree that through the heroics of one individual being of service to the other, a life was saved. However, at what cost and is that a price that many of us would pay? The Bible tells us that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to save us from our sins. This would seem to also be a case of making the Ultimate Sacrifice. But is it? And, even if it is, what meaning does it have for us, today?