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The Ultimate Sacrifice

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Astronauts returning from a space mission have often commented on the incredible beauty of our planet as viewed from a space shuttle. Yet there was a time when our earth and the entire universe as we know it became devoid of beauty, and empty darkness covered the entire earth (Genesis 1:2 Genesis 1:2And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters.
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Then God through the power of His Holy Spirit began to re-create the planet astronauts now admire as a beautiful sphere hanging in space. In the re-creation of earth, God also created the image of His family, the human race—man created from the dust of the earth, woman created from man. A renewed earth was born from the chaos of Satan's rebellion (Isaiah 14:12-14 Isaiah 14:12-14 12 How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how are you cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations! 13 For you have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also on the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
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But it wasn't long before the first couple disobeyed their Creator and fell for Satan's subtlety. Falling prey to the wiles of the devil, they broke the First Commandment, allowing Satan to become their god (Exodus 20:3 Exodus 20:3You shall have no other gods before me.
American King James Version×
). The human race has been under the influence of a false god ever since. Even the apostle Paul warned that Satan was, and is, the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4 2 Corinthians 4:4In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine to them.
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The Ability to Choose

God created mankind with free moral agency, the ability to choose between right and wrong, good and evil. It was all part of the plan God instituted from the foundations of the world to save His greatest creation, the human race.

Eventually He called an entire nation from slavery, gave them His laws, His statutes and His commands. But He also gave them choice: “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19 Deuteronomy 30:19I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live:
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But rather than obey God, the Israelites chose the way of the devil. Like Adam and Eve, they were more interested in forbidden fruit, and the whole world has eaten of the forbidden fruit ever since.

So God, in His forgiving love and mercy, gave the human race a solution, a plan of salvation, a plan blueprinted in seven annual festivals. The key to the plan was sacrifice. Sin, the transgression of God's law (1 John 3:4 1 John 3:4Whoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
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), brought mankind the penalty of death, a penalty that required payment (Romans 6:23 Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
American King James Version×
). In order to settle the debt and remove the death penalty, a loving merciful God gave the world a sacrifice for sin (John 3:16 John 3:16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
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In his letter to the Church of God at Rome, the apostle Paul put it this way; “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned… For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one [Adam], much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:12 Romans 5:12Why, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed on all men, for that all have sinned:
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, 17).

God's plan to save a sin-filled world involved one perfect sacrifice for all imperfection. Jesus explained to His disciples the events that had to transpire: “You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified” (Matthew 26:1-2 Matthew 26:1-2 1 And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, 2 You know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.
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), just as it was prophesied in the Old Testament.

“He [Christ] is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:3-6 Isaiah 53:3-6 3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was on him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
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).

One perfect life of the Son of God served as the debt for every imperfect human being that ever lived, but at the same time God did not remove mankind's ability to choose. Payment for sin is not automatic. We still have a choice to make, and that choice is to accept or reject the One who paid the price, the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf (John 6:51 John 6:51I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
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, 53).

Jesus died under the most cruel and inhumane method known at that time. A riotous mob, whipped into frenzy by the Pharisees and others, demanded He be put to death. “Pilate said to them, 'What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?' They all said to him, 'Let Him be crucified!' Then the governor said, 'Why, what evil has He done?' But they cried out all the more, saying, 'Let Him be crucified!' (Matthew 27:22-23 Matthew 27:22-23 22 Pilate said to them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say to him, Let him be crucified. 23 And the governor said, Why, what evil has he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.
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Planned From the Beginning

We are reminded that the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ was designed to forgive the world of sin, eventually allowing millions an opportunity at eternal life. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and to them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Hebrews 9:27-28 Hebrews 9:27-28 27 And as it is appointed to men once to die, but after this the judgment: 28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and to them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin to salvation.
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, King James Version).

We look at the history of creation and recognize that God, at some point in time, made a decision to expand His family. When the first created human beings disobeyed, it allowed sin to enter the human sphere. God then instituted a plan of salvation, a biblical blueprint with seven annual festivals depicting the fulfillment of that plan. Christ became the central figure, the focus of a plan that would allow the human race salvation—an opportunity to become members of God's expanded family. “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (Hebrews 2:9-10 Hebrews 2:9-10 9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. 10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
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).

This world, including some who observe the Passover, may not fully comprehend that this one time (for all time) sacrifice put God's plan of salvation, revealed through His festivals, into effect. Passover is a serious solemn occasion, a renewal of the covenant made at baptism when we accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. As a result, each year prior to the Passover observance, we are admonished to examine not each other, but ourselves.

“Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7 1 Corinthians 5:7Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
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).  UN

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