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If you could sacrifice your son and save the whole world, wouldn’t you? What’s the big deal about God’s sacrifice then; he did what any rational dad would do…

Aside from the obvious fact that this is a statement that would only seem rational to the childless, let’s spend some time looking at the crap ton of assumptions made in such a ridiculous question.

For starters, this cost-benefit analysis assumes that the whole world is saved by said sacrifice. And yet the bible is clear that not all are saved.

“The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10

If you could sacrifice your son just to offer everyone in the whole world salvation, would you? That seems much less cut and dry to me.

But let’s not romanticize it. This isn’t trading one innocent person for millions of other innocent people. God sacrificed the only innocent man for the sake of the guilty.

If you could sacrifice your son just to offer everyone in prison the opportunity to get out of jail, would you? But this still barely scratches the surface of the sacrifice.

Let’s pretend for just a moment that you had a girlfriend back in high school. She was the perfect girlfriend, beautiful and brilliant. You’d hang out together all the time and talk and laugh and generally feel quite good about the world. Until the day she dumped you. This was no “Dear John” breakup; she humiliated you in front of the whole school. It was a complete bridge burner.

After you both went your separate ways, she took a severe turn for the worse. A life characterized by drugs and violence; she sold herself in every possible way to anyone with money. She did things that haven’t even been named on UrbanDictionary. And every chance she got, she publicly derided you. She cursed you, blamed you, defamed you with vigorous hatred.

But you went on to get married. You married a woman far above any girlfriend you’d ever dated. She defines beauty and wisdom. Every moment with her is memorable and precious. Every second is an experience, every day is a lifetime. Your souls, your hearts, your very essence have become completely intertwined. She is as much a part of you as you are. This is love.

Through a series of events, you discover that this old girlfriend is wanting to get cleaned up, but doesn’t know how. You run a rehab clinic and so that you can continue to serve in your position, you buy a round trip ticket for your wife and a one way for your ex so that she can sober up.

But as soon as your ex realizes she is face to face with your wife, she kills her in cold blood on the spot.

She continues in her depravity to new lows. And at her absolute worst, she decides to use the one way ticket. Whether you send her to jail or shoot her on sight, she doesn’t care. She just can’t go on any longer in the hell she’s trapped in.

And when she shows up at your door… You don’t shoot her. You don’t hand her over to the police. You bring her in. You clean her up. You give her new clothes and a new home. And you don’t just send her back on her way. You give her everything you had given your wife. You marry her. You marry her because you love your wife, and her sacrifice has made all the difference.

This story is so completely far fetched as to be absurd, but this is terrifically close to what has really happened. But even this little parable falls short. Jesus knew the whole time he would have to die. He had to watch every single sin. He had to listen to every blasphemy. He had to bear all of our hatred, all of our insults, and he had to do the one thing that no God could ever do. He had to die. He had to give up his very nature to save those who by their very nature betrayed him and killed him.

And then, it’s not for a single one way ticket. I have complete freedom. I walk away constantly, I insult him incessantly, and he brings me back each time. He restores me and continues to give me my freedom. He won’t marry me against my will. He wants me to want him.

So yeah, no one has ever heard of a sacrifice like this. This is different. This is love.

Anonymous said on 2009-09-24


send me an email to

i’m Texas Aggie CO ‘11 and wanted to ask you a couple of questions, if you don’t mind.

God Bless, I look forward to talking to you.


Feral Writers' Project said on 2009-09-15

I’m not anonymous - from last November, I think; I just didn’t have this account yet at the time - and had an instant message session with you long before that led to another post.

james has a Glory insight that has to prove undoing to our desires to see a relationship descend from the sacrifice, to infinite justice, of the maximum-inconceivable mercy. I can see this much.

All five of us commenters have something great to learn, now, if the subject is not at its heart a plan of… of atoning sacrificial restoration-slash-arguable-showoffiness.

It’s worth considering how the question can be approached.

It sure sounds plausible that in fact )we( are the only ones who have to feel like we have seen scores settled; that love in terms of sacrifice is native only to a society of scarcity. Maybe the Messiah story is a tale not of a body feeding itself into cosmic gears [to love us thiiis much]but of a victim walking into our scapegoating mechanism and letting us behold its impotence, and the impotence of our bitterness [to show us our hearts in thiiis depth]. A bitterness that Christianity often only serves to dredge up.

to read much of a book called Things Hidden Since The Foundation Of The World is a sweet and just perhaps incomparable way of considering what is true about sacrifice and whether this is or it isn’t. Reading 5% has suggested a lot to me, in a world where I write since I have not seen a “gospel” that can connect to so many of we disenchanted (or even give us back a bible as something we can read!) no matter how clever the examples you post to illustrate.

If TAMU doesn’t have a copy I can drop each of you this one for a while. In an unexpected way it has, I think, given me back bibles as things I can think about.

It may also more than make up for the substance of the long-delayed November reply comment I haven’t posted.

Feral Writers' Project said on 2009-09-15

This comment has been removed by the author.

James said on 2009-08-26

I’m actually the person who originally posed the question. The blog was linked to me.

I really like your response to the question, as it makes it nearly impossible to dispute God’s grace. I don’t think, however, that God’s grace was ever in question.

It’s important to note the key difference between your analogy and Christ’s salvation of every convicted soul on Earth (edited to clarify that I am aware the Bible says we aren’t all saved). The difference lies in the pursuit of glory, which is the only thing God cares more about than Jesus or his people.

Saving billions of people you’ve created and saving one person are not the same, and God knew that, or else he would have just saved a select few. (In fact, there are examples in the Bible such as God’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah where he did only spare a select few. A consistency throughout the Bible is that, historically, he has completely eradicated anyone who came in the way of his glory. In fact, at one point, he asked Abraham to start the entire human race over from the start.)

When we became sinners, collectively, we jeopardized all the glory that God had created the Earth to seek. He had no choice but to completely start over.

The lucky thing for us is that while God was ashamed at the direction we turned our souls, he loved his creation so much, that he sent his perfect son to start the entire thing over, be a martyr, and provide an eternal example of how we were to live our lives.

God saves individuals because of grace and love, but he saved the entire world in one fell swoop to further the glory of his kingdom.

The reason your scenario appears to be an insurmountable sacrifice is the level of grace involved, but it ignores the glory God attained by making that sacrifice.

Another inconsistency, say the ex-girlfriend was the last remaining person on Earth and shunning her would leave zero companions. This was the situation God was left with. He could ignore us, or he could forgive us and once again be companions with the billions he lovingly created with the purpose of expanding his empire.

For myself, the ultimate sacrifice is my own life. When I have children some day, I have little doubt that my personal ultimate sacrifice will be the lives of my children.

For the Lord, however, the ultimate sacrifice is his glory, and when it came down to it, that’s not what he chose to give up.

Lastly, my point was not meant to be nearly as blasphemous as you interpreted. In context, my point is questioning the notion that God made the ultimate sacrifice. I never implied it wasn’t a sacrifice. It’s not a matter of faith as much as it is a theological stance on a commonly used church catch-phrase. I am eternally grateful for the forgiveness and grace that God has shown me in my life.

Anonymous said on 2009-08-26

Or, it’s like this: you have an ex girlfriend. She had no confidence and wasn’t very bright when you met her, and you told her she shouldn’t better herself, though you let her pick the colors of the drapes. One day she decides to take a class. When you hear about that, you beat the crap out of her and throw her out of your house. And over the years, you make it a point to make her life miserable every once in awhile. Then, one day, your son meets her, and a guy who used to be your best friend tells her to kill him. She doesn’t want to, but he badgers him into it, and that’s when she finds out that it was all part of your plan all along. You knew that your friend would badger her into it. And now, all she has to do is beg for forgiveness for wanting to go to class, to fall to her knees and say you can do whatever you want to her, and you’ll still make her life miserable, but some later time promise that you’ll take care of her.

That’s not love.

In the bible, Jesus got rid of the original sin that damned us all to “death” or “hell”… despite it having been significantly more than 7 generations.

Oh, pastors say that we’re all ‘miserable’, but y’know what? Some of us are happy, even without any shred of God. But the only way we aren’t damned by God, according to you, is if we fall on our knees and say how awful we are and beg, BEG, for forgiveness.

No thanks.

Seb said on 2009-08-26

But aren’t we all God’s children, in a sense? That changes the equation pretty drastically, if you ask me.

Emily said on 2009-08-26

Wow Mike. Really. I always enjoy reading your posts, no matter how far between, but this one really hit me. Thanks for sharing. It really is indescribable what God has done for us.

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