No, don't kill the bull!
“Save the bulls. Honor Maximus. He won the battle.”
I love this quote from the film, The Gladiator. It was uttered by Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, to his son, Commodus, who conveniently “missed the war,” a deadly and terrifying battlefront in ancient Germany. Commodus flippantly condoleses, “Father, congratulations! I shall sacrifice a hundred bulls to honour your triumph,” hoping to gain his father’s favour, or possibly appease his anger. Dad sees through the facade, cuts to the chase, and says, “Save the bulls!”
Save the bulls.
Our Heavenly Father says the same to us. When we come to Him with our sense or dread or appeasement for our shortcoming, failures, and sinfulness, we’re inclined to make some sweeping sacrifice in our life: “I will never ____ again (you fill it in).” Or, I’m going to fast or give up _____ (whatever!) for so many days.” Why do we do or say such things? We resort to sacrifices, rather than obedience.
“To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed, than the fat of rams.” I Samuel 15:22
Save the bulls.
Our Father isn’t looking for sacrifices because Jesus already made the ultimate Sacrifice of His Life, for ours!
“..He gave Himself up for us, an offering and sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” Ephesians 5:2
“Not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.
For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh,
how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
“For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore when He comes into the world, He says, ‘Sacrifice and offering You have not desired, but a body You’ve prepared for me; in whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You take no pleasure. Then I said, “Behold, I have come, (in the roll of the book it is written of Me) to do Your will, O God.'”” Hebrews 10:4-7
Save the bulls.
If not bulls, what? The Word lays out several ‘sacrifices’ we can offer to honour our Lord for His great, valiant, and complete redemptive work of mercy, grace, and love for us:
GIVE HONOUR, PRAISE and THANKS
“Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.” Hebrews 13:15
“Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving.” Psalm 50:14
“He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honours Me..” Ps. 50:23
WITH BROKENNESS, SORROW and CONFESSION
“Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to Him, ‘Take away all iniquity, and receive graciously, that we may present the fruit of our lips.'” Hosea 14:2
“For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it: You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” Ps. 51:16, 17
SHOW MERCY, COMPASSION, KINDNESS and HUMILITY
“For I delight in mercy rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” Hosea 6:6
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, to love kindness, and walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
“But go and learn what this means, ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:13
“I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service of worship.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Save the bulls. HONOUR JESUS. He has won the battle.
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ!” 2 Corinthians 2:14
“When He disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through it [the Cross]!”