One year for Christmas, I gave my little sister a Beatles CD. It was the only Beatles CD that I did not personally own, and one that I desperately wanted. It may have been the least selfless gift that I have ever given. I know that it was not selfless because I looked forward to enjoying it myself. I know that it was not selfless because I expected to benefit from it myself. I know that it was not selfless because it was something that I wanted for myself.
The Bible tells us that Jesus’ gift, the offering of Himself on the cross for each one of us, was truly selfless. He certainly did not look forward to it, there was no benefit to Him, and it was not something He wanted for Himself.
The book of Hebrews explains that Jesus is better than the high priests under the law of Moses. The most crucial role of any high priest was to present the blood of the sin offering to God on behalf of the nation. On one day each year, he would carefully and reverently enter the “most holy place,” stand before God and present the blood of the sacrifice. As important as his role was, those actions were not purely selfless. Just as the nation’s citizens, that high priest looked forward to the forgiveness or atonement of his sins, he benefited from that sacrifice, and he not only wanted but needed it for himself (Hebrews 5:1-3).
Jesus endured the pain and shame of the cross while having no sin and no need for the forgiveness of sin. His gift, His sacrifice, was purely for our benefit. His suffering and His death was not His desire or His will, but God’s.