Below is an excerpt of a reflection by ESR student Josh Seligman on a message delivered in worship on November 8, 2012:
In today's programmed worship service at ESR, Michael Sherman preached
from Hebrews 10 about sacrifice. Michael argued that Jesus' death on
the cross was the final sacrifice and that God no longer desires
Christians to sacrifice, but rather to give of ourselves willingly.
This resurfaced some questions I have been asking since being in
seminary: What was and is the meaning of Jesus' death on the cross?
How did or does Jesus' death save us? What does it mean for Christians
to sacrifice? Perhaps exploring the very word "sacrifice" will help.
Sacrifice comes from "sacra," which means holy, and "facere," which can mean to make, to do, or to perform. "Holy," it is important to note, comes from "hale," which means health, heartiness, wholeness. Literally, to sacrifice means to make or do something holy, something whole.
If Jesus' death on the cross was a sacrifice, then Jesus' death was
something holy and whole, or it made some thing or things holy and
whole--or both. As I understand it, this is consistent with the
gospel. Christians proclaim that Jesus' death on the cross has
reconciled humanity and God. Some say that his death has
reconciled the whole world with God. That through Jesus' death, we
receive forgiveness of sins, and through Jesus' wounds we are healed.
That the cross has dismantled the wall between Jew and Gentile. Jesus'
death is holy and whole because it makes us holy and whole. If his
death did none of these things, then it
would not be holy; it would not be a sacrifice.
You can read Josh's entire post here: http://inthesixthmonth.blogspot.com/2012/11/making-things-holy-and-whole.html