Here is an interesting passage.
God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. (Romans 5:25a NKJV)
Q) Who presented the sacrifice?
Q) Who received the sacrifice?
A) We do by faith.
For centuries the church has been teaching what the Jews of Jesus day would have called paganism. Zeus was a pagan god who people attributed to natural disasters and the uncontrollable things that happened in the world. As an example, Zeus is often pictured holding lightening. People would make all types of sacrifices to appease Zeus in a hope that he would not strike them down.
In Genesis Abraham goes to sacrifice his son to appease God. This was an ancient common practice. However before he could plunge the knife into his sons neck God stops him and instead says, “I will provide the sacrifice.” Instead of humans making sacrifices to appease God, God provides a sacrifice to show His devotion to the people.
In later Jewish history we see Jews making sacrifices to God. Many have viewed these through a Pagan lens and have assumed that these sacrifices were to appease an angry God. However, Hebrews 10 says that the blood of animals are powerless in taking away our sins. So why did they offer sacrifices? To the Jews sacrifices were offerings of worship. The offerings said, “God, we have messed up. But we still want to be your people. Accept this gift.”
Time after time the prophets correct the people of God by saying, “God doesn’t want a sacrifice (that’s what the pagan gods want), God actually wants relationship, He wants justice and mercy to flow.” (Isa 1, Ps 40:6, Hos 6:6, etc)
“You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise. (Psalm 50:16-17 NKJV)
The Psalms continually link sacrifice with worship, for example;
May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice. (Psalm 141:2)
As we can see, the Jewish God did not need sacrifices to appease His wrath and anger. Rather these sacrifices were acts that demonstrated love, devotion and relationship.
When Jesus comes, He comes not to appease an angry God but to show humanity His love and devotion to us. God presented Christ as a sacrifice. This passage does not say that God presented Himself with a sacrifice to appease Himself. Rather it says that He presented Christ as a sacrifice for humanity to be received by faith.
On the cross Jesus demonstrated His love that while we were still sinners He died for us. At the cross God is revealing His heart for humanity. He is for us. He loves us. He wants to have a relationship with us.
The question now is, “Will you receive it by faith?”