Christianity has taught, preached and proclaimed that mankind should stand in awe of the "incredible" depth of Jesus sacrifice on behalf of poor wretched sinners. As we have been taught, Jesus took himself from the highest place in the universe down to the lowest place on the human scale. There to die a death, not just any death but a most cruel and inhuman death which our small heads might be able to imagine. As the trite saying goes, "God bankrupted heaven in order that we might enjoy his riches."
Now, to be sure, the story of Jesus does provide a illustration of a sacrifice. However, are we to be awe-fully impressed by it. Is that sacrifice truly a sacrifice of such magnitude claimed? Let's take a brief look.
First of all, Jesus sacrifice was encapsulated in 33 brief years. So, sandwiched in between eternity previous and eternity post is a segment of time which, in comparison, does not even register as a relative blip on the screen. The insignificance of 33 years is brought out by the statement in II Peter 3:8, "...with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (ESV). I understand that thousand years can easily be interpreted figuratively and not literally. Nonetheless, the point can be argued that 33 years does not even constitute a significant portion of the divine day. Would we commend someone excessively for devoting 1-2 hours out of entire lifetime to be face to face with those he claimed to love. No, we are not impressed. Jesus gave very little of his time to be with us.
Next we must ask, "how hard was it to be away from heaven for those 33 years?" Imagine if a person lived an incredible life of luxury for his entire life . But the only time he had to really sacrifice would be 1-2 hours of incredible suffering. Then immediately afterwards he could go back to his life of incredible luxury. Now this scenerio is flawed with contingencies based on the mental health status of the person involved. But suppose the person involved is a mentally balanced, rational being. Would that person consider this suffering overwhelming? As long as the person kept the 1-2 hours of suffering in perspective, the situation would be "no sweat." How much more from a divine perspective? How much did Jesus really sacrifice by giving up the riches of heaven when he knew it would only be a short time before he received all back again?
In this question, we are defining sacrifice simply as time spent being human, a fate which most of us do not consider a sacrifice. It is a sacrifice for him, Jesus, only in a condescending way. Maybe a true sacrifice would be Jesus being reborn in each generation to be with us. Maybe it would be Jesus just being with us antlike humans from the beginning. I would actually be impressed if the person that I have worshipped for over 30 years actually took the time to meet me face to face in person. That I think I would begin to call a sacrifice on a divine level. As it is, no we are not impressed.
Let us scrutinize a little further. Up to approximately his thirtieth birthday, Jesus simply lived a normal life of a Galilean peasant. Nothing special. He may have gone hungry sometimes. But we are given no indications that Jesus almost starved to death during his physical development. We are given no indications that Jesus suffered any significant physical impairments. How could a real Jesus honestly look at a person who has had cerebral palsy from birth and say that he has made a great sacrifice when Jesus' "sacrificial" experience would provide him not a clue of what it felt like to be CP from birth. If Jesus was going to be truly sacrificial, why couldn't he grow up in a slave camp being beaten daily. Or why couldn't he have a lifetime experience of chronic pain sydrome so that he could truly understand what some of his creature go through without any of the praise and adulation accorded to his name? This shows just how superficial his sacrifice really was. Truly, Jesus, we are not impressed.
Going a bit further, his ministry lasted a mere 3 years, but maybe as short as one year. One cannot disipute that he gave much during this time going without sleep many nights, reaching out to many in need and preaching his double edged message of love and condemnation. Jesus' effort pales incredibly in relation to many of his own followers who have devotedan entire lifetime sacrificing all worldly goods and worldly desires to follow his message. Who should stand in awe and praise of whom. I think Jesus should worship many of his followers because they have sacrificed insurmountably more than he.
Even during this time, did Jesus' sacrifice call him to truly physically suffer? No more than millions of altruistic persons have done. Then what does it come down to? Jesus spent no more than 1 human day truly suffering on an elevated scale including the trial, the scouraging, the mockery, and the actual crucifixion (in which Jesus was granted a brief than usual stay on the cross of only 6 hours. Many others crucified usually spend a much longer time than the fortunate son.). Imagine Jesus thinking to himself, "Sure, right now this is bad. But if I can hang on a few hours. I will be right back up in heaven. And my father promised that everyone will have to bow to my name nowand forever more. I guess that's not such bad deal" Now I am not so "blasphemous" as to suggest that that is the way Jesus actually thought or that the gospel writers imply that thinking. Nonetheless, it pretty much sums up the essence of the situation. How is this sacrifice any greater on the human level? Spartacus, circa 70 BCE,and his compatriots endured torture and the sacrifice on the cross over a much longer period of time for for the commandable goal of raising the status of slaves to a level of human dignifity. His sacrifice was just as noble. But he operated without any promise of a life after death. That raises his sacrifice much higher into the realm of the sublime. If Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice, why then does it not appear to be so ultimate?
Shouldn't we expect more of divine sacrifice than we do of human sacrifice?
Does this not make Jesus' sacrifice embarrassing and infinitely small?
Can I ask one more question?
Are we impressed yet?