Few people realize it, but Jesus made two sacrifices; and it’s hard to say which is greater. Sadly, no one even knows about the first sacrifice. So let’s correct that shameful oversight.
John 1:1-2 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.
We can infer from this and a few other scriptures that, in the immemorial recesses of antiquity there were two Gods; equally perfect and equally God. Distinct of course, but of the same rank – since rank is merely a measure of perfection. But they wanted to build a family, billions of people with whom to share the joys of a perfect universe.
Unfortunately, there was a snag. See, in creating beings who can sin, it is inevitable that some of them will sin. In fact, given time, it is inevitable that ALL will sin. Since it is a given that every being WILL sin at some point in the future, however perfectly they are created (Satan, for instance), it is equally a given that all beings must die at the moment of that sin.
But this would ruin everything, for what’s the point of creating a family, just to destroy them as punishment for their sin? And so a way must be found to make the law allow imperfect beings to exist temporarily. In the perfection of the law, there can be no flexibility; if the wages of sin is death, a perfect being must deliver those wages instantly, mercilessly, and inflexibly, regardless of trifles like motives or pressure or temptation. The law is – MUST be, for the safety of the universe – inflexible. There can be no consideration for mitigating circumstances, no compromises, for a perfect being.
Imagine if God didn’t insist that gravity work EVERY time. Earth would fly into Jupiter without warning. God could say “Oops! But it didn’t MEAN to crash into Jupiter and destroy all life on Earth!” – but regardless of WHY He let the law of gravity be bent, no universe could survive long with that sort of a God running it.
And both Gods were perfect, and both upheld this law rigidly, inflexibly; both in themselves, and in any beings they created. When something in their domain sinned, they HAD to execute judgment against it to maintain balance in the universe. If they didn’t execute it – or even if they delayed it a little bit – then it would mean that they bore the blame for that sin. Just as YOU bear the blame if you let your children steal things from each other and bite each other. If it’s in your power to stop it, then you must stop it as soon as you learn of it or YOU bear the blame for it (Leviticus 19:17, Ezekiel 3:18, 1 Timothy 5:22, etc).
So to allow carnal beings to live temporarily in sin, they divided the government of the universe into two parts; one Lawgiver, and one Judge. The Lawgiver gives laws; such as “the wages of Sin is death”. The job of the Judge is then to soften those laws based on mitigating circumstances. To maintain the purity of the system, the Lawgiver must always be rigidly perfect – if the law requires a death, a death it must have.
The Judge on the other hand, who is subservient to the lawgiver, has an extremely wide area of discretion to make His decision. The Judge can look at circumstances – and mitigate the JUDGMENT based on those circumstances. The law is still the law – if you sinned, you sinned, and that’s all there is to it. But the PENALTY for that sin can be softened, changed, or paid for by proxy IF the Judge feels that it is in the spirit of the law.
But He cannot make the laws, because in order for the law to be perfect it cannot say “the wages of sin is death UNLESS you were tired, or hungry, or didn’t mean to, or someone lied to you, or someone sinned against you first, or…” – that would be ridiculous, and no law at all. It is the Judge’s job to make judgments about the law, but He is not qualified to write the laws themselves!
James 4:12 There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: …
At present, we have two Gods, but only ONE lawgiver. Not two! ONE!
2 Timothy 4:8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
The judge and the lawgiver cannot be the same person; when one person combines the judicial and the legislative branches of government, he is called a dictator. So the Father is the lawgiver, and Jesus is the judge. And Jesus is now inferior to the Father, and ALWAYS will be!
John 14:28 … I said, I go unto the Father: FOR MY FATHER IS GREATER THAN I.
1 Corinthians 15:28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
So let’s summarize; in the beginning, God and Jesus were equally perfect, equally righteous, and both lawgivers. But in order to build a family, one of them had to become a judge, and make the law more flexible, while the other had to remain the inflexible ruler of the universe. And by creating beings who could sin – and then allowing them TO sin without punishing them immediately – Jesus had to provide a payment.
Nothing else would do. The law REQUIRED a payment. And if Jesus would not exact it from the people, He had to exact it from Himself. And so Jesus promised to surrender His Godhood and become a man, before the world existed (1 Peter 1:20, Revelation 13:8). Remember, Jesus was equal with the Father in the beginning. But when Jesus agreed to take on this job of Judge, it required Him to FOREVER abase Himself before the Father, who alone would remain perfectly inflexible with the law. Think about the enormity of that sacrifice!
Hebrews 5:8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
I have rather enjoyed hassling people with this scripture, asking them embarrassing questions like “Well, was He disobedient before? Was He UNperfect and then became perfect? What could this scripture mean?” But in all seriousness, what did happen? Quite simply, Jesus had never known what it meant to be obedient before!
As a perfect God being, Jesus had never known what it was to take orders from someone else. He was perfect. Sin was a thought that had never occurred to him, and there was no reason to take orders from the Father or anyone else. But when He volunteered to be the judge, He had to become obedient to His Father’s rules, and accept Him as Lawgiver.
Melchizedek was the embodiment of Christ and high priest of the Most High God before the time of Moses (Genesis 14:18). The name Melchizedek is Hebrew for “My King is the Righteous One”. And the first act of Melchizedek after creating Man was to sacrifice animals to pay for the sins of Adam and Eve.
Genesis 3:21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
So when Jesus adopted the office of Melchizedek instead of His historical office as God, by His very name He acknowledged obedience to “the Righteous One”. Who was of course, the Lawgiver who had remained in heaven. And after being obedient as an immortal High Priest, He became a man, and in the ultimate obedience laid down His life according to His Father’s will.
But if you were paying close attention, you’ll notice that was TWO sacrifices! He died on the stake for the sins of mankind, yes. But before that, He had “died” as a God being! Just by becoming a man in the first place, He had to forsake His immortal, divine nature, and become HUMAN! When He entered the womb of Mary, He DIED as an immortal divine God to be born as a weak, frail Man! And that was the FIRST sacrifice!
Imagine that, if you can!
But why did He do that? What did that sacrifice of His Godhood provide for us? And to answer, I must give a brief explanation of how Grace works.
Grace literally means simply the overlooking of sins of ignorance. Grace doesn’t pay for sins, it doesn’t forgive them, it simply doesn’t blame you for them because you didn’t know any better! Because “where no law is, there is no transgression.” (Romans 4:15), and “sin is not imputed when there is no law.” (Romans 5:13).
But we know that “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20). So the more you sin, the more grace you receive. On the other hand, “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6). So the more humble you are, the more grace you receive. But wait a minute! Romans 5:20 says the more you SIN, the more grace you receive, and we know sinning and humility are at opposite ends of the virtue spectrum!
And again, 2 Peter 3:18 commands us to “Grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord“. So growing in knowing God brings you more grace. But if you know God better, you should be sinning less! How can we explain these contradictions? How can we get more grace for being good, AND more grace for being bad? The only explanation is that there are two graces which act differently.
1 Peter 4:10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
The “manifold grace” means “the grace with many sides”, literally. The overlooking of sins of ignorance has many aspects, but two main purposes. We know that “by grace are ye saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). Notice that you are saved (the purpose of this grace) by grace, and that that is made possible THROUGH FAITH. So it is FAITH that brings this GRACE which in turn SAVES you. So we will call this spiritual grace. Another example of this grace is:
Romans 5:21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
Notice that grace reigns THROUGH RIGHTEOUSNESS. Righteousness and faith are very closely connected as my other articles show. So when Grace reigns through RIGHTEOUSNESS, the sins you don’t know about are not imputed, or counted against you. So in God’s eyes, you can appear perfect because you are obeying Him in everything you know.
Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
Notice how specific Paul is in Titus – the grace of God THAT BRINGS SALVATION has appeared… as if opposed to a grace which does NOT bring salvation. An even more clear distinction is found in…
Romans 5:2 By whom also we have access by faith into THIS grace wherein WE stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
So THIS grace wherein WE stand, we have access to by FAITH, and that it is ONLY by Faith that we receive the grace which leads to eternal life! And now let’s look at grace which does NOT come by Faith:
Galatians 1:15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,
This says that Paul was separated from his mother’s womb AND CALLED BY GRACE! Now when you’re called, you are still a heathen; you don’t know God, which is why YOU MUST BE CALLED TO HIM! And in that state, you CANNOT have Faith, for you don’t KNOW GOD! So you CANNOT get grace through faith, for you HAVE no faith!
1 Timothy 1:13 …but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
And yet God overlooked Paul’s sins and called him anyway. Because Paul’s sins were in IGNORANCE, so God could overlook them – through grace! But not grace which comes by faith, but a DIFFERENT grace! The grace which allows the rain to fall on the just, and on the unjust.
Matthew 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
Now if God were to execute proper judgment (as the Lawgiver would do it), the evil should receive no rain (Deuteronomy 11:17) and the righteous should; In fact, the evil should be killed on the spot. But He doesn’t do that. Why? Because “they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). They’re ignorant! So the JUDGE can overlook their sins of ignorance! Of course, that doesn’t mean those evil people will be in the first resurrection! It only means that they will get RAIN, and be able to LIVE a PHYSICAL life, with physical blessings and physical cursings, for a normal life span and DIE! And so THAT grace we shall term “Physical grace”.
The graces act exactly the same, but have different purposes. Physical grace is given to all men, to allow them to live out their physical lives and hopefully learn something in this life before proceeding to the next one. And where sin abounds, THAT grace abounds more! (Romans 5:20). God also uses Physical grace to work with people He is calling, people who have no faith. For “the gifts and the calling of God are without repentance” (Romans 11:29).
But spiritual grace comes ONLY by faith, and faith comes only by righteousness. So you must obey God to receive more spiritual grace, and increase your faith to increase your grace. When you do, you GROW in grace as you GROW in knowledge of God! And THIS grace, wherein WE stand, has a much more glorious purpose – this grace allows us to inherit not the physical blessings of temporary physical life, but SPIRITUAL blessings of ETERNAL life! And now that you understand that difference, I can wrap this concept up.
Jesus sacrificed his Godhood as payment for the sins of all mankind. Not a permanent payment, mind you; just a temporary payment. His Godhood bought physical grace, to pay for everyone who has ever lived and sinned in ignorance.
2 Corinthians 5:15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
This death bought rain for the wicked, and life for the ungodly. It bought a stay of execution, to allow you and me to make stupid mistakes for awhile before we were able to see the exceeding sinfulness of sin and choose to avoid it voluntarily. Without it, we could not live. But it wasn’t enough.
Hebrews 3:3-4 For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house. For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God.
Jesus’ life as a God being was more valuable than the lives of everyone He had created, because He was greater than all of them put together. But it wasn’t enough to buy ETERNAL lives for us. It was only enough to buy a PHYSICAL life, to avoid giving us the punishment we deserved on the spot.
2 Corinthians 8:9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.
To look at it differently, Jesus HAD to die as a God to pay for not judging us. He SHOULD have judged us, and He DIDN’T and so He HAD to sacrifice His position to pay for it. And that bought us a stay of execution. But that was only the first sacrifice, which bought physical grace.
Hebrews 2:14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
And so He became a man. And that would have bought plenty of physical grace for us. But it couldn’t have forgiven our sins, nor allowed us to life a spiritual, eternal life. And so He had to actually die, in every possible sense of the word, to satisfy the Lawgiver’s penalties and qualify Himself forever as a righteous judge.
Hebrews 2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
So that was the plan. He bought the first grace before the world was, or else He’d have had to kill Adam at the first sin. That’s why He was Melchizedek, the servant of the Righteous ONE, the Lawgiver. But that wasn’t enough. To be a righteous Judge, and REALLY UNDERSTAND what it was like to be in this physical body, and to be able to UNDERSTAND what we go through on a daily basis, He had to become one of us.
Hebrews 2:17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
Remember, Jesus had never known obedience before. He had never had to subject his own will to the will of anyone else, for any reason. But He learned that through the things that he suffered, starting as Melchizedek and ending as Jesus Christ. This changed Christ’s character. It taught Him how difficult it was to be human and to obey an unseen God. It taught Him that in some circumstances there are mitigating factors that should soften judgment.
God the Father still does not know this, for He has never learned obedience, and never can. A Judge must understand what His subjects go through. A Lawgiver must remain objective to the needs of the few, and focus instead on the needs of the universe. And that is why Jesus Christ will always remain subservient to His Father.
Jesus was equal with the Father! He’d never been obedient to ANYONE in all of eternity! But He LEARNED obedience because now, suddenly, He had been put into a position as Judge and High Priest where He HAD to submit Himself to His Father who was, now, GREATER than He!
Jesus purchased these two Graces at an awesome price. It’s hard to say which one is greater.
John 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
But at least now you are aware that there WERE two sacrifices.