Thursday, August 13, 2020
Sacrificing a Tree
a dead tree for firewood is one thing,
stripping the bark to kill a living tree for no good purpose is evil.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.
He did not say this on his own, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was about to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the dispersed children of God.
Words of Grace For Today
We humans understand how innocent people or animals are sacrificed to ‘pay a debt’ and free us. There are two kinds of sacrifice, one destructive evil, one gracious goodness.
Rene Girard developed a few ideas that many have applied and adapted. At the core is his mimetic theory that we ‘remember’ we desire something by seeing others having it, which causes senseless competition between even friends. Competition leads to conflict and conflict cannot be between friends, so the friends use a scapegoat (an innocent, vulnerable bystander) on whom they pile fictitious blame. This cathartic release of blame onto a third party relieves the conflict between the two friends and they continue on, the desire that caused the conflict resolves into the senselessness it was at the beginning. The friendship is saved, the friends continue on.
The vulnerable, innocent scapegoat is destroyed.
This is the destructive evil sacrifice.
Girard interprets the story of Jesus’ sacrifice for us as God’s clear statement that scapegoating innocent, vulnerable people is not acceptable or needed, just as God’s clear statement by calling Abraham to the mountain to sacrifice his only son Isaac, and then stopping Abraham, was that God did not want any child sacrificed to himself.
God clearly does not want destructive evil sacrifice by any humans.
God does send his son, Jesus, to live, preach, teach, heal and sacrifice himself to the corrupt power of his time, the Roman empire and the Chief Priest. This is the sacrifice of gracious goodness. It is chosen by the one surrendering to sacrifice. The sacrifice does not destroy innocent and vulnerable people. Exactly the opposite, it gives life to all.
Jesus calls us to wisely sacrifice, sometimes little, sometimes everything, in order that other people will be able to live. We do not send someone else to be the sacrifice. We go ourselves, knowing that all we are and have is a gift from God, and if God can use us to give life, then as followers of Jesus we can give of ourselves, and even give everything of ourselves, in order that others may live, and live in the abundance of Grace, Love and Hope that God created us all to enjoy.
So much in life tries to get us to strive to achieve and receive at others’ cost (the destructive evil sacrifice). This is not the way of life for the followers of Jesus, and for all the children of God.