Why Any Sacrifice for Sin?

Reading Psalm 40:6 recently got me thinking: Why did Jesus have to be a sacrifice for us…why does God need a sacrifice, could He just forgive sin as He chooses to?

‘Sacrifice and oblation thou didst not desire; but thou hast pierced ears for me. Burnt offering and sin offering thou didst not require’ - Psalm 40:6

Ps. I adore Christ’s self sacrifice for us, I’m so thankful, just theologically curious.

I think the sacrifice was for our benefit, not God’s. It showed Christ’s obedience as a man to the Father (in contrast to Adam’s disobedience), and demonstrated his love. It was obedience and love that the Father cherished in Jesus, and more than that, Christ showed us the way to redemption, that type of self-sacrificing love of God and man. It was still an offering of self, but it’s not the violence of the act that was pleasing to God.

I had the same question before and on a Good Friday, this is what came to me.

God hates sin. All sin is disgusting to Him. For all the evil man has done, nothing would suffice except for a life offering. Think about animal offerings. Our sin is so great, that we could not bear the punishment we are due. God provided the perfect sacrifice for us. His most holy and precious offering, Christ Jesus, our Lord. As he took our punishment and actually became sin, He completed the only means of reparation for us. God gave us free will, we abused it and God loves us so much that He gave us the only sacrifice that would be satisfactory.

I believe a very cogent answer was given by Dr. David Anders of EWTN radio program “Called to Communion”.

In the beginning God required the Israelites to have to sacrifice, that is: “to cease to obtain the benefit of” an animal.
In a society that was so dependent on animal husbandry and incipient agriculture it was a huge burden. So it taught us something.

This was so to ingrain the consequence of sin in our life.
Yes, GOD can forgive us and not require any thing from us, the question is would we learn anything in the process?
The analogy would be with our own sons and daughters. When they transgress do we let them be?
Do we allow their unacceptable behaviours go uncorrected? For if we do we are certainly sowing perdition for their lives.

Why did Jesus have to offer HIS life though is a profound question.

What do WE have that can satisfy the damage inflicted by us to a being so far beyond even our feeble comprehension. Nothing!
Our sacrifices did not attain the goal of redemption. Restoring the broken bond between us and our Father.

Only a sacrifice from a divine being would suffice to restore the chasm created by Adam’s sin. And Jesus because IS God could offer it on our behalf.

This fact does NOT allow us to believe that we can continue sinning. St. Paul clearly admonishes us, we cannot foul GOD. He freely offers redemption, we need to accept it and also accept the consequences of our choices.

I’m sorry for this rambling post. What I wanted to say just couldn’t get through to my fingers and this confusing post came out instead. I know what I’m trying to say but it won’t come out.

Again, my apologies.

**I, for one, understand your thinking about this issue.
In the first place, when Jews made an animal sacrifice to YHWH, they never tortured that animal to death. The Law required them to kill the animal as painlessly as possible.
The Gospel indicates that our Lord’s concern was not so much about His exit from this world (He was exasperated by it,) but more with the terrible manner in which He would have to die.

In the second place, as you have noted, Jesus repeatedly said and demonstrated that He had the power to forgive sins.
Therefore the idea that He would have to undergo death by torture to accomplish the same just does not make sense.

Our Lord’s purpose in coming to this sorry world was to teach us how to follow our Creator’s Law. He told us which were the Laws to be emphasized and expanded upon.
His submission to death by torture was the ultimate demonstration as to how to follow YHWH’s laws: To love YHWH our God with all of our heart, mind, and soul; and to love our neighbor as ourself.

Remember that, at any time, our Lord could have exacted retribution on His assailants, but He withheld His power.
We should think about what we are doing with our own weapons of mass retribution, and whether deploying these horrible devices is in keeping with our Lord’s teachings.


This is interesting. I have never considered the idea that Jesus’ death on the cross was more for our benefit, specifically to show us what it looks like to follow God’s law completely, even under threat of death - a martyrs example.

While also showing us the great love of God, as Jesus says in John 15:13: ‘Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’

However if Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was not necessary for God to forgive sins, such as when we see Jesus (who is God) forgiving the sins of people before His crucifixion, then I am confused by 1 John 2:2 which says ‘And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.’

How can Jesus forgive sins before He was the propitiation for sin by His sacrifice on the cross? Revelation 13:8 states that Jesus was slain from the beginning of the world…could this be the answer?

Could some good intellectual illuminate this for me?

Hah! I’m by no means an intellectual. But the best resolution I have made for myself of this situation, is that God wants perfect obedience. What Jesus has is a life of perfect obedience, and we partake of this life when we are “in Him”. This perfect life overrides any sin we may have committed, provided we remain in Him, or when we sin, we return to Him in repentance.


No, Jesus did not have to die for God to forgive our sins. But by become a member of the human race, and by full obedience to God, Christ’s sacrifice makes ONE all of humanity, as a family, to God. The human race is now reconciled to God. Nevertheless, God could forgive any individual before the redemption. This is due to two aspects: (1) the fact that Christ’s obedient death reconciled humankind as a race, the human family that was previously under the Adam’s sin of obedience. And (2) Christ’s redemption occurred in time but is present to God in eternity.

I guess the question would be if point 2 even mattered, considering God could forgive on an individual basis prior to the redemption.

I believe that without the Cross, forgiveness would just not be possible. In the OT, God has said he will not acquit the guilty. If so, there is a penalty to be paid. Now, I do not think Jesus paid our penalty for us, per se. But, by dying, He provided a death for us to use to pay the debt. By being in Him, we both have a death to pay for sin, and a perfect life to allow us to live in fellowship in the Family of God, as sons and daughters of God. Both His life and His death are necessary for our salvation.

Edit Uh, I may have gotten that backwards. I think God actually said He does not want us to condem the innocent. I’ll have to recheck.


The fundamental issue of God’s forgiveness of our sins is that it takes the INFINITE GOODNESS and MERCY of God’s Power to happen. IOW, if we are in awe of the immense power of God in creating the Universe, and the Holy Angels and man, then we should know that the power to forgive sins is infinitely greater than that! As humans we just think, oh, God could just forgive us, period. But we have NO UNDERSTANDING of what we are saying.

The death of Jesus on the Cross was NECESSARY for us to see HOW IMMENSE a power it takes to forgive sins.

When Jesus healed the paralytic, he asked: “Which is easier to say, Thy sins are forgiven thee; or to say, Arise and walk?” (Luke 5:23)

This was the way Jesus (in his always understated and meek way) spoke in explaining that the forgiveness of sins is FAR MORE POWERFUL than any miracle or even creation itself!

How can we be so blind to this? It is because we are human, and our ways are not His ways, our thoughts are not His thoughts. Still. we should meditate on the awesome power of God’s love and mercy exercised through his perfect justice if we wish to understand the death of Jesus on the Cross.

**I given the experts their chances on this and am unable to agree with their replies.
The idea that mankind’s act of torturing to death YHWH’s Chosen One somehow persuades our Creator to like us better just does not seem logical.

1 John 2:2,
**"…He is the sacrifice that takes our sins away,"
and not only ours,
but the whole worlds."

**If our Lord’s submission to torture induces any one of us to deny his own self interest and follow the Law by placing the interests of his neighbor above his own, then it can be said that "His sacrifice takes [that persons] sins away.
It is such a powerful teaching that it reaches to the far ends of the earth.

Immediately following 1 John 2:2 we find:**
**We can be sure that we know God
only by keeping His Commandments. …

We can be sure
that we are in God
only when the one who claims to be living in Him
is living the kind of life that Christ lived. …

Anyone who claims to be in the Light
but still hates his brother
is still in the dark. **

In regards to John 15:13,
Our Sacred Teacher submitted to being tortured to death “for His friends” in order to provide the perfect example to them as to just how much personal denial one must make in following YHWH’s Law,
and, thereby, saving them from perdition if these friends would live up to His example.
With all to respect to the “experts,” all of the convoluted theology in regards to the Crucifixion is no more than verbal gymnastics attempting to find a way out of making such great personal sacrifices.

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