We’re looking at the story of Cain and Abel this week, two brothers who offered gifts to God, and violence ensued when God accepted one and not the other. So, where is Jesus in this story? He’s in a few places.
The lamb prefigures the Passover (which we’ll study around Easter, so hang tight) and Jesus as the one perfect sacrifice for sin. The very best human is what’s required to substitute for the rest of us, and Jesus was that one perfect, sinless, spotless human. But this is not really about human sacrifice – this was a God sacrifice! Jesus was and is fully God, and yet he was fully human.
But there’s more.
Abel offers the appropriate sacrifice when Cain does not. Abel satisfies God’s need for justice, to see sin acknowledged for it having caused death and division in the human race. That’s exactly what the human race needs – someone to make the right sacrifice for us when we can’t.
Through this series on the Old Testament, you’ll find epic fails – stories of violence, war, disaster, slavery, and more. You’ll hear again and again of a patient God, lovingly calling his people home – first through Israel, for the entire world. He gives them systems of law, prophets who speak for him, and he appears in various powerful events.
But he also gives them a system of sacrifices – where the connection between sin and death is made clear, and where God allows a substitute to replace the sinner.
The contrast between Cain and Abel, and their sacrifices, shows us our need for a final, ultimate sacrifice once and for all.
We need an Abel – but a better Abel. Someone who can offer to God the right sacrifice when we fail.
But what happens to Abel? Cain kills him.
What happened to Jesus? We killed him.
Jesus is foreshadowed in this story. He is the one perfect human being whose sacrifice matters most. He substitutes himself for all of us, sacrificing himself, dying so we didn’t have to take the full and eternal brunt of death.
Relying on that sacrifice, rather than our own, means we can fully give ourselves over to God.
Cain doesn’t trust God fully, he holds back the best of his crop. Abel does trust – he gives the very best. Jesus gives the very best for us. He then calls us to give our best in return. We no longer need to give God offerings to appease his wrath, to buy time, or to stave off death. Rather we can give offerings to give thanks for his substitutionary death, his sacrifice for us.
What’s this look like today? In financial terms, it can mean setting up a monthly financial gift, and budgeting around that. In terms of service, it can mean giving your best years to God, when you could be making your best income, relaxing in retirement, or otherwise thinking of yourself. In terms of time, it might mean giving your best hours of your day to prayer and reading scripture.
Challenge: What is your best? Offer it to God today as thanks for what he did on the cross.
Reminder: We are reading the Bible in sync as one community – so check out today’s reading at https://www.redeemthecommute.com/readingplan
Meeting with a Group? Your discussion questions are in this week’s Group Study Guide[permalink append=”#comments”]Discuss the Challenge[/permalink]