A curious question to ask is whether Yeshua ever offered sacrifices in the Temple? It’s a curious question because the gospels never depict him doing so. Our off-the-cuff answer to the question may reveal a lot about our assumptions concerning Yeshua.
Another question might be, “Why don’t the gospels ever depict Yeshua offering a sacrifice or mention that he did so?”
From the point of view of many Christians, if someone were to ask, “Would Jesus do that?” it would be hard for most to imagine it: Jesus, bringing an animal so its blood could be poured out as a cleansing for sin?
One objection might be: since Yeshua never sinned, there is no way he would offer a sacrifice. To this objection we can offer two answers:
(a) Yeshua was baptized by John in a baptism for repentance, which seems a rather parallel case.
(b) Sacrifices were offered for worship and for the festivals, so one did not require a sin issue to bring an offering.
On the other side of the question, we might note a few things Yeshua said about the sacrifices and the Temple:
– He believed in the sanctity of the Temple: Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house? (Luke 2:49).
– He believed in the sanctity of the altar and its offerings: For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it (Matt 23:19-20).
– He spoke as if bringing sacrifices was a normal part of life with God: leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother and then come and present your gift (Matt 5:24).
We might argue as follows:
1. Yeshua was obedient in all things to his Father.
2. The offerings in the Temple were commandments.
3. Yeshua would have offered them as commanded.
Paul’s statement about Yeshua, that he was born under the Law (Gal 4:4) further backs this up.
But, that leads to an even more interesting point, once we can agree that, definitely, Yeshua offered gifts on the altar of God at the Temple in Jerusalem:
1. Yeshua surely would have brought sacrifices on various occasions to the Temple.
2. The gospels never depict him doing so.
3. There must be a reason, which we could possibly guess, why the gospels do not show Yeshua doing something he certainly must have done.
What could that reason be?
Let’s suggest that the reason is simple: the gospels assume many things about the Jewish world in which its characters lived and moved and assume the readers will share in these assumptions.
Put another way: it did not occur to the evangelists that any audience would ever imagine Yeshua as something other than a Torah-keeping, Temple-worshipping Jew. Things like the sacrifices are part of the shared world which did not seem to require any notice in the accounts of Yeshua’s life.
This is a principle which should be applied across the board to the life of Yeshua and the disciples and apostles: their covenantal practices of obedience to Torah should be assumed even where not specifically stated.