Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome by the apostle Paul. More specifically today’s passage is found in the twelfth and thirteenth chapters of this New Testament book. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts different according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proper option of faith; or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, or teaching; or he that exhorted, or exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it, with simplicity ; he that ruleth, he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness” (Romans 12:1-8).
“Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to not man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:9-21).
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: ;for he is the minister of God, a revenge to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:1-10).
“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:11-14).
When you come to the twelfth and thirteenth chapters of the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul you will encounter a transition within it from the words and language the apostle Paul used concerning the nation and people of Israel. Having just spent three chapters arguing and contending that although the nation and people of Israel had rejected the Messiah and Christ as well as had rejected the word and gospel of Jesus of Nazareth the Lord had not abandoned them the apostle Paul now shifts gears within this epistle. If you begin reading with and from the first and opening verse within this passage we will find the apostle Paul beseeching those to whom he is writing by the mercies of God. In order to make his plea and appeal within this particular portion of the epistle the apostle Paul appealed to the mercies of the living God to entreat the saints which were at Rome—and not only entreat the saints here at Rome but also invite them into something incredibly powerful. As you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find the apostles Paul appealing to the saints which were at Rome to present their bodies. Pause for a moment and stop and read this first verse slowly, deliberately and intentionally. PRESENT. PRESENT YOUR. PRESENT YOUR BODIES. PRESENT YOUR BODIES AS! PRESENT YOUR BODIES AS LIVING. PRESENT YOUR BODIES AS LIVING SACRIFICES! Consider just how absolutely incredible the words found within this passage truly are for they call and draw our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the need which the saints of the living God have to present themselves before and unto the living and holy God. The apostle Paul entreated and invited the saints which were present at Rome to present their bodies as living sacrifices and the language that is used is language that is similar to what we find in the Old Testament books of the Law.
In all reality the more I read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture I am reminded of the fact that within and throughout Scripture there are only two times when there were living sacrifices that were placed upon the altar. If you take the time to read the entirety of the Scripture you will find that whenever sacrifices and offerings were brought unto the Tabernacle or Temple to present unto the Lord they were always killed there in the outer court of the Temple. What’s more is that more often than not the individual who was bringing and presenting their sacrifice unto the Lord would indeed be the one to lay their hand upon the sacrifice and offering and put it to death. It would then be the priest who would drain the blood of the sacrifice, sprinkle some of the blood upon the altar and then arrange the pieces of the sacrifice and offering upon the altar. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for when you study and examine the Old Testament sacrificial system you will find that absolutely every sacrifice and offering which was presented unto the Lord—regardless of whether it was a bull, or ram, or goat, or lamb—was dead before it was placed upon the altar and in the midst of the fire. The fire was to continually burn upon the altar there in the midst of the outer court. Nowhere in any of the Old Testament books of the Law will you find any reference of mention of the sacrifices and offerings which were presented and offered unto the Lord being alive when they were placed upon the altar of burnt offering. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of—particularly when reading the words which are found in the twelfth chapter of the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome.
If you continue reading the words which are found in the twelfth chapter of the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome you will find the apostle Paul beseeching the saints of Rome to present their bodies as living sacrifices. What’s more is that the apostle Paul didn’t merely beseech them to present their bodies as living sacrifices but he also besought them to present their bodies as living sacrifices holy, acceptable unto God which was their reasonable service. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for this is one of the first times in all of Scripture when we read of the sacrifice which was upon the altar being alive rather than dead. Nowhere in any of the Old Testament books of the Law will you ever find the living and eternal God instructing and commanding the children of Israel to present their gifts, their sacrifices and their offerings as living sacrifices holy and acceptable unto the LORD their God. Oh it was indeed true that when the sacrifices and offerings were brought unto the Tabernacle or Temple the sacrifices, the gifts and the offerings were alive, however, it would be there in the outer court of both sanctuaries of the living God where these sacrifices would be killed and put to death that the blood might be spilled and that the sacrifices might be arranged upon the altar that it might be consumed in the midst of the fire as a sweet smelling fragrance and aroma before and unto the living God. It is having said this I invite you to consider the following passages of Scripture which describe the only two times in all of Scripture when the sacrifice which was placed upon the altar was living. In the case of the first the sacrifice which was alive and placed upon the altar would experience a substitution and replacement by another while in the second case the living sacrifice would remain upon the altar and would die upon it. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the Old Testament book of Genesis as well as the four New Testament gospels written concerning the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth:
“And it came to pass after those things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the world for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. And Isaac spake unto Abraham HNIC father, and said, My father: and he said, Here I am, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the world: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-Jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen. And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, and said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth by blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beer-Sheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beer-Sheba” (Genesis 22:1-19).
This is the Old Testament account of a living sacrifice which was in fact Isaac the son and child of promise born unto Abraham and Sarah according to the word of the Lord which was spoken unto them all those years earlier by the voice and word of the Lord. We now turn and direct our attention to the words which are found in the four New Testament gospel narratives of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. Within these four gospels we will find what is only the second account in all of scripture of a living sacrifice that was presented unto the living God—the one sacrifice which was most holy and most pleasing unto the LORD. In fact there were multiple times before the sacrifice would be placed upon the altar of the cross when it was indeed pronounced as innocent, without fault and guilty of nothing that warranted death. It would be Pontius Pilate who would indeed proclaim the innocence of Jesus of Nazareth before ultimately delivering Him up into the hands of sinners to put Him to death upon the cruel Roman instrument that was the cross. It is absolutely necessary and imperative for us to recognize and understand this for within and throughout Scripture there were only two sacrifices which were living when they were placed upon the altar with one of them finding substitute from a ram that was caught in the thicket while the other would actually die upon the altar which was indeed the cross. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding this truth for it brings us face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Rome concerning the presenting of their bodies a living sacrifice holy and acceptable unto the LORD which was their reasonable service. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following accounts found in the four gospels—not only of the presentation of the living sacrifice but also the pronouncement of the sacrifice being innocent, without fault and in all reality holy in the sight and presence of one who was himself a sinner in the sight of the living God:
“When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: and when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor” (Matthew 27:1-2).
“And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest. And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee? And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marveled greatly. Now at the feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would. And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I released unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ? For he knew that for envy they had delivered him. When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him. But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesu which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified. When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to b e crucified. Then the solderis of the governor took Jesus into the comman hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him. And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross. And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull, they gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink. And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my veasture did they cast lots. And sitting down they watched him there; and set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left. And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. The thieves also which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth. Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama, sabachthani? That is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him. Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost” (Matthew 27:11-49).
“And straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered him to Pilate. And Pilate asked him, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answering said unto him, Thou sayest it. And the chief priests accused him of many things: but he answered nothing. AND Pilate asked him again, saying, Answerest thou nothing? Behold how many things they witness against thee. But Jesus yet answered nothing: so that Pilate marvelled. Now at that feast he released unto them one prisoner, whomsoever they desired. And there was one named Barabbas, which lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection. And the multitude crying aloud began to desire him to do as he had ever done unto them. But Pilate answered them,s saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy. But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them. And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews? And they cried out again, Crucify him. Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him. And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus when he had scourged him, to be crucified. And the soldiers led him away into the hall, called Praetorium; and they call together the whole band. And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head, and began to salute him, hail, King of the Jews! And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing their knees worshipped him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put his own clothes on him, and led him out to crucify him. And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross. And they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull. And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not. And when they had curried him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take. And it was the third hour, and they curried him. And the superscription of his accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JES> and with hi they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left. And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors. And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, Save thyself, and come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save. Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him. And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? Which is being interpreted, My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me? And some of them that stood by, when t hey heard it, said, Behold, eh calleth Elias. And one ran and filled a sponge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take him down. And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. And when the centurion which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God” (Mark 15:1-39).
“And the whole multitude of them arose, and led him unto Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King. And Pilate asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the JewsA? Nd he answered him and said, Thou sayest it. Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find Eno fault in this man. And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place. When Pialte heard of Galilee, he asked whether the man were a Galilaean. And as soon as he knew that he belonged unto Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time. And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him. Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing. And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him. And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate. And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves. And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers of the people, said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him: no, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him. I will therefore chastise him, and release him. (For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.) And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas: (Who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison.) Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them. But there cried, saying Crucify him, Crucify him. And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go. And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed. And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required. And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will. And as they lad him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross that he might bear it after Jesus” (Luke 23:1-26).
“And there were also two other malefactors, let with him to be put to death. And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derived him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God. And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, and saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself. And a superscription also was written over him in the letter of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. And it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father into thy hands I commend my spirit; and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man. And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned. And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things” (Luke 23:32-49).
“Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the Passover. Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man? They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee. Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death: that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what death he should die. Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? Pilate answered, Am I Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king, To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all. But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews? Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber” (John 18:28-40).
“Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him, And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, and said, Hail, King of the jews! And they smote him with gtheir hands. Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto t hem, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilat saith unto them, Behold the man! When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crujcify him, crucify him. Pilate saith uno them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him. The jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. When Pialte therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid; and went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus. Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer. Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin. And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him, Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. Then deliver he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus and led him away. And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst. And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. Nd the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was night to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written I have written. Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coast was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lost. These things therefore the soldiers did. Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene., When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple stands by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciples took her unto his own home. After this, Jesus know that all things were now accomplished that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled s plunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. The jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and they might be taken away. Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: but one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. And agin another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced” (John 19:1-37).
I fully realize this was a lot of Scripture—both in the Old Testament book of Genesis as well as in the New Testament gospel narratives of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus—however, I am convinced it is necessary for us to recognize and understand these two examples. It is within the narrative of Isaac the son of Abraham and Jesus the eternal and only begotten and beloved Son of the living God we find the only two accounts of living sacrifices in all of Scripture. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for when we come to the twelfth chapter of the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome we find him beseeching them to present their bodies living sacrifices holy and acceptable unto the Lord. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for when you read the Old Testament you will find that any and every sacrifice that was placed upon the altar in the midst of the fire was dead. Although the sacrifice was brought unto the Temple or Tabernacle very much alive the sacrifice would be put to death as both the priest and the one who brought the sacrifice would put their hand upon the sacrifice and would break its neck that it might be dead there in the outer court. Before the blood was ever shed and before the parts of the offerings were arranged upon the sacrifice the gift and offering was already dead and when it was placed upon the altar it was dead. This is what makes the narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus so incredibly unique when you take the time to consider it for Jesus presented His body as a living sacrifice which was holy and acceptable unto the living God.
It was absolutely necessary that we include the accounts of Jesus standing trial before Pontius Pilate for when standing before this Roman governor who was a sinner and a heathen in the midst of Jerusalem he found no fault in Jesus whatsoever. There are multiple accounts within the four gospel narratives where Pontius Pilate emphatically declared unto the chief priests and the Jewish people that he found no fault within Jesus of Nazareth and that he found nothing in him worthy of death. Although Jesus had been brought unto them to be killed and crucified Pilate had found absolutely no fault nor any wrong within him. What’s more is that the four gospel narratives even suggest that Pilate sought to release Jesus unto them—even though he might have scourged him before releasing him unto the people once more. We know the chief priests stirred up the people and incited them to cry out for the Lord Jesus to be crucified. Despite the fact that Pilate found no fault at all within the person of the Lord Jesus as He stood before him and as he examined Him the Jews still desired that He be crucified. Eventually and ultimately Pilate would give the Jewish people what they wanted and would deliver Him unto their wishes and their demands. The whole band would be called together and they would not only plate a crown of thorns upon the head of Jesus but they would also adorn him with a purple robe that they might mock and ridicule Him. What’s more is that just as the wood for the sacrifice was laid upon the shoulders of Isaac as a symbol and type of Jesus so also would the wood of His own sacrifice be laid upon the shoulders and back of Jesus. Each of the four gospels present us with the picture that the cross which was made of wood would indeed be placed upon the back and shoulders of Jesus of Nazareth as He was forced to carry the cross along the Via Dolorosa.
If there is one thing I find to be absolutely astounding when reading the words found in these passages of Scripture it’s that both Isaac and Jesus both carried the wood for their sacrifice upon the upon their shoulders and upon their back. It was Abraham the father of Isaac who would set the wood upon his shoulders during his generation and it would be the Roman soldiers who would force Jesus to carry the instrument of His sacrifice. Isaac would carry the wood for the sacrifice upon his shoulders until he and his father arrived at the place where the wood would be removed from his shoulders, would be laid upon the altar before Isaac himself would be laid upon the wood having been bound by his father Abraham. Jesus would be forced to carry the wooden cross of His own sacrifice and suffering upon His shoulders and back to the place where He would give Himself as a living sacrifice which was holy and acceptable in the sight of the living God. Jesus would carry the cross unto the place of the altar and it would be there in that place where the Lord Jesus would be laid upon the wooden cross just as Isaac himself was laid upon the wood at Moriah. What’s more is I can’t help but wonder how far the place was where Jesus was laid upon the wooden cross from the place where Isaac himself was laid upon the wood which he had carried upon his shoulders. There have been some which have stated that the same place where Abraham offered Isaac upon the mountain of Moriah was the same place where the Temple which Solomon built would stand. There are some who have said that the precise place where the Holy of Holies would be the same place where Abraham sacrificed his son Isaac and where David built an altar and where the living God answered him with fire from heaven. Wouldn’t it be interesting if in the very place Abraham offered his son Isaac Jesus Himself was crucified upon the cross? What if the place of the skull called Golgotha and Calvary was the very place where Abraham offered his son Isaac as a living sacrifice?
I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome and I find myself coming face to face with a powerful invitation to present our bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable unto the Lord which is our reasonable service. I mentioned earlier the importance of pausing when reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I would invite you to stop and merely consider the first word of this invitation—“present.” Stop and consider what it truly means to present yourself before and unto the Lord. In the Old Testament book of the Law it was declared of the children of Israel that three times the men were to appear before the LORD their God and that they were not to appear before Him empty-handed. Each time the children of Israel appeared before and came unto the LORD they were always to come bearing a gift, a sacrifice and an offering. Oh there is something truly unique and powerful about our coming and appearing before the Lord our God and presenting ourselves unto Him. Stop and don’t go any further and think about what it would mean to present yourself before and unto the Lord. Forget the “living sacrifice” part right now and simply consider what it would mean and what it would look for you to present yourself before and unto the Lord. Consider what it would mean if you took the time to come and appear before the Lord and simply presented yourself before the Lord as He has asked and required of you. The living and eternal God delights in those who present themselves before and unto Him and those who hold nothing back. This is what was so beautiful about Abraham and Isaac for even the angel of the LORD declared unto Abraham that he knew he feared Him because he did not holy back his only son Isaac.
The more I think about this particular truth the more I am brought face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth that we have indeed been called to hold nothing back to present ourselves before and unto the Lord. Remember what David said at the site of Moriah where he would build an altar that he might present an offering unto the LORD? David declared that he would not sacrifice unto the LORD that which cost him nothing. In other words David would indeed recognize the importance of offering before and unto the LORD that which was not cheap but that which was costly. This is what was found in the example of the woman who brought her alabaster jar which was filled with the perfume for it was referenced of that alabaster jar and the perfume itself that it was very costly. This woman would dare take and bring that which was costly and that which was precious unto her and would bring it unto the feet of Jesus for despite the cost and value of that which she brought unto Jesus it paled in comparison to the infinite worth and value of the person of the Lord Jesus. Oh this is one thing we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding truth that when we present ourselves unto the Lord we are not presenting that which cost us nothing but we are presenting unto the living and eternal God that which is costly and that which is precious. We have indeed and have in fact been called to present ourselves before and unto the Lord holding nothing back—not like Ananias and Sapphira sold a piece of land and kept back a portion of the proceeds while giving the appearance and impression that they had brought before and unto the LORD all of what they had. Moreover the apostle Peter spoke unto both of them of their lying to the Holy Spirit—and not only of their lying to the Holy Spirit but also their conspiracy together to do so.
I find myself being absolutely and incredibly captivated with the words which are found in the Old Testament book of First Chronicles, as well as the words which are found in the four New Testament gospels concerning the woman who brought her alabaster jar into the presence of Jesus that she might not only break the jar before Him at His feet but might also pour out the precious ointment and perfume which was present inside upon the feet of Jesus. Moreover I can’t help but be reminded of the account of Ananias and Sapphira who agreed together to tempt and lie to the Holy Spirit by giving the appearance that they were bringing everything unto the Lord and yet they were holding something back from him. These two conspired together to present a false picture of giving everything unto the Lord and yet they were holding something back for themselves—perhaps because they distrust the community of believers there in the midst of Jerusalem or perhaps because they were focused on themselves and their own needs. We don’t really know why Ananias and Sapphira kept back a portion of the proceeds of the sale of the property for and unto themselves, however, we do know that the apostle Peter emphatically declared unto them both that they conspired together to lie to the Holy Spirit. This is something worth recognizing and understanding for how many times have we entered into the presence of the Lord and attempted to give the impression that we have given everything we have unto the Lord and yet we have truthfully held and kept back a portion for ourselves? How many times have we entered into the presence of the living God and given the appearance that we are presenting ourselves unto and before the Lord and yet what we are doing is withholding a piece and a portion of ourselves? It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the sacred Scripture beginning with the Old Testament book of First Chronicles:
“Then the angel of the LORD commanded Gad to say to David, that David should go up, and set up an altar unto the LORD in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite. And David went up at the saying of Gad, which he spake in the name of the LORD. And Ornan turned back, and saw the angel; and his four sons with him hid themselves. Now Ornan was threshing wheat. And as David came to Ornan, Ornan looked and saw David, and went out of the threshingfloor, and bowed himself to David with his face to the ground. Then David said to Ornan, Grant me the place of this threshingfloor, that I may build an altar therein unto the LORD: Thou shalt grant it me for the full price: that the plague may be stayed form the people. And Ornan said unto David, Take it to thee, and let my lord the king do that which is good in his eyes: lo, I give thee the oxen also for burnt offerings, and the threshing instruments for wood, and the wheat for the meat offering; I give it all. And king David said to Ornan, Nay: but I will verily but it for the full price: for I will not take that which is thine for the LORD, nor offer burnt offerings without cost. So David gave to Nornan for the place six hundred shekels of gold by weight. And David build there an altar unto the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called upon the LORD; and he answered him from heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt offering. And the LORD commanded the angel; and he put up his sword again into the sheath thereof. At that time when David saw that the LORD had answered him in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite, then he sacrificed there. For the tabernacle of the LORD, which. Moses made in the wilderness, and the altar of the burnt offering, were at that season in the high place at Gibeon. But David could not go before it to inquire of God: for he was afraid because of the sword of the angel of the LORD” (1 Chronicles 21:15-30).
“Then David said, This is the house of the LORD God, and this is the altar of the burnt offering for Israel” (1 Chronicles 22:1).
Consider now the accounts of the woman who entered into the presence of Jesus, bowed and kneeled at His feet and not only broke the alabaster box which in and of itself would have been costly but also poured out that which was precious. BREAKING THAT WHICH IS COSTLY, POURING OUT THAT WHICH IS PRECIOUS! The account of Mary with the alabaster jar is quite fascinating when you take the time to truly consider it for it brings us face to face with someone who wasn’t willing to enter into the presence of Jesus with that which was cheap, that which was fake nor even that which was nothing more than an imitation. Mary viewed this as being a small gesture—a small offering and gift—in light of the worth and value of Jesus and I would dare say that she might have viewed it as not enough. I would dare say if Mary had more she would have happily and gladly bestowed it upon the feet and person of Jesus. The question we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we are willing to do the same. Do we see the infinite beauty, the infinite value, the infinite worth that is found in the person and presence of the Lord Jesus? Even though we behold through a glass darkly and do not see Him as he truly is in all His glory do we still allow ourselves to get caught up in His beauty, in His majesty, in His holiness and in His glory as we witness in the fourth and fifth chapters of the New Testament prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus. And not only these chapters but also that which is found in the sixth chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah, the ninth chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Daniel and the first chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following passages pertaining to this woman and her alabaster box:
“Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, there came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very previous ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? For she hath wrought a good work. Upon me. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her” (Matthew 26:6-13).
“And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poure dit on his head. And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her. And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? She hath wrought a good work on me. For ye have the poor with you always, and when soever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always. She hath done what she could: she is come a forehand to anoint my body to the burying. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her” (Mark 14:3-9).
“And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisees’ house, and sat down meat. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, and stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I supposed that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace” (Luke 7:36-50).
“Then Jesus six days before the Passover came to Bethany where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. There they made him a. Supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief and had the bag and bare what was put therein. Then said Jesus, Let here alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always” (John 12:1-8).
It is clear from these passages that Mary had an alabaster jar which was very costly which contained within it an ointment and perfume that was very precious. Mary viewed both the alabaster jar and the ointment and perfume that was inside as but a small offering to present before and unto Jesus whom she loved, whom she worshipped and whom she adored. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for when we present ourselves before and unto the Lord we must recognize and understand that we have not been called to offer that which cost us nothing nor offer that which has no value or worth. This is precisely what was going on during the days of Malachi over a hundred years after the children of Israel returned from captivity and exile in the land of the Chaldeans. The children of Israel were bringing offerings before the Lord, however, those offerings were lame, and maimed, and blind and weren’t that which the living God had prescribed. If there is one thing we must needs recognize it’s that not only have we been called to present ourselves to the Lord but we must also hold nothing back and offer that which cost us nothing. What’s more is that we must not offer unto the Lord that which has no value nor that which has any worth. The danger which Ananias and Sapphira faced was that they attempted to give the impression that they were giving everything they had to the LORD. What makes this all the more intriguing when you take the time to think about it is when you consider the fact that although no one else might have known the scheme and conspiracy which they had planned among themselves the Holy Spirit knew and revealed it unto Peter. Not only did the Holy Spirit reveal it unto Peter but Peter also called it out when they entered in among the brethren before they would each fall in the presence of the living God. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful reality of how we have indeed and have in fact been called to be such who not only refuse to hold parts of us back but also refuse to be those who attempt to give the impression that they are indeed giving everything when in fact they are not. Having said this I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the fifth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts beginning with the first verse:
“But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, and kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? And after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? Why hast thou conceived this thing heart? Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not. Knowing what was done, came in. And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. Then Peter said unto her, how is that ye have agree together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things” (Acts 5:1-11).
Consider now the following words which are found in the first chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Malachi beginning with the sixth verse:
“A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: If then I be a father, where is mine honour? And if I be a master, where is my fear? Saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible. And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And if ye offer the lame and sick, is not evil? Offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? Saith the LORD of hosts. And now, I pray you, beseech God that he will be gracious unto us: This hath been by your means: will he regard your persons? Saith the LORD of hosts. Who is there even among you that would shut the doors for nought? Neither do ye kindle fire on mine altar for nought. I have no pleasure in you, saith the LORD of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hand. For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: For my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye have profaned it, in that ye say, The table of the LORD is polluted; and the fruit thereof, even his meat, is contemptible. Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it! And ye have snuffed at it, saith the LORD of hosts; and ye have snuffed at it, saith the LORD of hosts; and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: Should I accept this of your hand? Saith the LORD. But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the LORD a corrupt thing: For I am a great King, saith the LORD of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen” (Malachi 1:6-14).
As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to bring our attention back to the twelfth chapter of the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints of Rome. The apostle Paul admonished them to present their bodies as living sacrifices unto the Lord—that which is holy and acceptable. What’s more is that he not only admonished them to present their bodies as living sacrifices which were holy and acceptable but he also described it as their reasonable service. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for it brings us face to face with whether or not we are presenting ourselves unto the Lord—and not only presenting ourselves to the Lord but presenting ourselves period. Not only this but we have also been called to be those who continually present our bodies unto the Lord as living sacrifices which doesn’t indicate a one time ordeal but a continual and continuous operation within our lives. One doesn’t merely present their body unto the living God once and then never again after that. We do ourselves a great disservice when we think that we can present our bodies a living sacrifice unto the Lord once and then never have to do so again in the future. The fact the apostle Paul uses the word “living” as it pertains to sacrifice not only suggests a continuous offering unto the living God but also denotes the tremendous reality that we have indeed and have in fact been called to be those who are to remain upon the altar. The problem with being a living sacrifice is that there might and there will be times when we would like to come off the altar. By presenting ourselves a living sacrifice we not only agree to remain upon the altar but we also agree to continually present ourselves as sacrifices which are holy and acceptable in the sight of the living God. We as the saints of God and disciples of Jesus Christ must needs be those who recognize and understand that we have in fact been called to be men and women whose bodies do not belong to us but do in fact belong to the Lord. It was Moses who admonished the children of Israel to love the LORD their God with all their heart, with all their soul, with all their mind and with all their strength and we would do well to recognize that we have been called to love the living God with our whole being—with everything we are, with everything we have within us and without holding anything back from Him.