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Yeshua in Context » Background to Gospels, Erasing Anti-Judaism, Featured, Law, Torah, Sacrificial System, Temple and Torah » Yeshua and Sacrifices

Yeshua and Sacrifices

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.

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Filed under: Background to Gospels, Erasing Anti-Judaism, Featured, Law, Torah, Sacrificial System, Temple and Torah

6 Responses to "Yeshua and Sacrifices"

  1. Steve Purtell says:

    Derek,

    Great questions and good insight! Also, Mariam and Yoseph do bring the offering (Two doves) for their first born, Yeshua!

  2. Geralyn Kohler says:

    Derek,
    Thank you for addressing this topic. As a Roman Catholic I have witnessed and experienced the sacrifice of Yeshua in every Mass. What I found in the past several years is some resources on 2nd. Temple worship that has helped me better understand the role of sacrifice remaining within Catholicism. I highly recommend a book called “The Temple; It’s Symbolism and Meaning Then and Now” written by Joshua Berman copyright 1995. In Catholicism, the sacrificial offering is a thank offering – Eucharist. As I learned more of the Sedar liturgy, I began to understand more what Yeshua was doing that last Passover. I’ve also read another work (I think by a Tim Gray???) who suggests that the Eucharistic meal in Catholicism is a Todah sacrifice. Another gentile Catholic source to understanding Yeshua’s sacrifice is “The Fourth Cup” by Dr. Scott Hahn. Finally, challenged by a gentile friend who did not know of Catholicism roots in Judaism, I finally read the 613 Laws. What I found within the area of Temple worship and sacrifices – coupled with my own Catholic experience – opened my eyes to percieve how Gentile Catholics are keeping Torah…recognizing all it does not keep as non-Jewish people.

    What I love about the Gospels is Yeshua’s presence in the Temple area from birth until his death. They “went up” on Feast days and Jesus taught. I see no incongruity with him offering sacrifice; especially in light of the Letter to the Hebrews.

    Peace and much thanks,
    Geralyn

    1. Geralyn Kohler says:

      p.s The Tim Gray reference is from Lay Witness (Nov/Dec.2002) “From Jewish Passover to Christian Eucharist: The Story of the Todah.” Another scholarly work I found is “The Temple and It’s Services: The Temple It’s Ministry and Services at the Time of Jesus Christ” by Dr. Alfred Edersheim published, I believe, in 1874. He was a Jewish convert to Christianity, but of Protestantism rather than Catholicism, so he misses the Catholic significance of Eucharist.

    2. yeshuain says:

      Geralyn:

      Thank you for bringing some perspective from the Catholic fold in these matters. Blessings and peace.

      Derek Leman

  3. Wouter says:

    Guess there is probally still a major difference between the eucharist and the animal sacrifices in the second temple. So can see the resemblence if you assume the eucharist isn’t just ment to be a passover, but in reality can’t see any resemblence of why sacrifices would continue in the form of a eucharist. As there is no blood sacrifice or offering on an altar taking place. Doesn’t eating unclean meat and there being no temple to bring sacrifices to, kindoff defeat saying that torah is followed in gentile churches. The eucharist to me only makes sense in it being a passover, celebrating what he has done, but I can’t share the view of it being a sacrifice.

    Derek, would like to ask if sacrifices would have still been needed after Yeshua was suppose to have given complete redemption with his sacrifice on the Cross.

    1. Wouter says:

      Another Question is also wheter Yeshua didn’t just follow torah to furfill it, but after he went to the cross, how much of the torah does a gentile need to follow? Also agian would sacrifices be needed after Yeshua was the final sacrifice? I guess I have also addressed how if you assume the eucharist to be a sacfrifice and not just passover, then can see it somehow continueing, but when comparing the eucharist to the temple sacrifice, there is major differences. I like the article on Passover.

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