‘Two: Sacrifice as Prelude’

Part 2of our reading through ‘Did God Kill Jesus’ by Tony Jones

Read Part 2: ‘Sacrifice as Prelude’ of ‘Did God Kill Jesus’. Read the short reflection below, then comment about either Part 2 or the reflection!

Why Sacrifice?

There’s a deep human connection with sacrifice. It undergirds our understanding of faith because all of our faith traditions are rooted in a sacrificial relationship. Particularly one in which sacrifices were made to make a god or gods happy and curry favor.

But it isn’t only in our past:

Other examples of human sacrifice happen to this very day though usually in similarly remote corners of the world. So-called honor killings sometimes make the news, in which a woman is killed by her own family for marrying a man other than the one they’d chosen for her. These girls and women are sacrificed to redeem their families’ honor.

From ancient history to modern American football players, sacrifice for a higher purpose has been elevated and valorized. It has sought to make noble the physical tearing apart of life. Here, the work of Rene Girard is important to help us see not only our psychology in such an event, but its inability to fully satisfy our society. It will always be hungry for blood.

Is Sacrifice Acceptable?

Sacrifice has certainly been lifted up in culture, but also in scripture.

But not always, and not consistently. Certainly not at the beginning. There it is arbitrary and capricious. It takes time to become organized and expected. Not predestined to be the way of the faithful to God, but perhaps established in the Exodus, in leaving and being liberated it begins and only later becomes what we know it as: animals killed upon an altar in thanksgiving to God, not to get something from God.

All about the Blood

Anyone who has read Torah knows how gruesome the details of sacrifice are: the ritual killing isn’t abstract, but quite literal and detailed. The animal is killed and the blood is drained and then splashed on the altar and the people like a youth group in a holy paint fight. With respect, of course.

The blood isn’t hidden and left inside the carcass. It is part of the ritual and used . The blood is a character in the sacrifice story. And was equally present when Jesus arrived on the scene. But strangely, he never talks about it.

Jones names three postures Christians take with blood and sacrifice:

  1. “to simply write off Israel’s obsession with sacrifice and blood as remnants of primitive, tribal religion.”
  2. “that God really wants blood.”
  3. “to consider that violence between human beings preceded religion.”

None of these really look good or help God pass the sniff test. But there is another option.

“that God is moving through time and history with us, and that God’s responses to his relationship with humanity evolve as humanity evolves.”