Weekly bulletin article by Mike Johnson

Baseball is the only sport that officially rewards a player for a sacrifice. If you are not a baseball fan, you may not understand what a sacrifice is. A sacrifice is awarded to a batter when he bunts a pitched ball for the purpose of advancing a runner and forfeiting his chance to get on base. It is also a sacrifice if the batted ball is a fly ball out advancing a runner on base.

The concept of sacrifice exists in other sports though not as an official term for which there is a reward. A football player who plays on the kick-off cover team is often referred to as having “sacrificed his body”. Basketball players might sacrifice scoring their own points in order for others to score.

But, baseball’s use of sacrifice is unique. And, it illustrates well the Biblical concept of sacrifice. Sacrifice is giving up something in behalf of someone else. In the Mosaic Law, God outlined the series of sacrifices from the flocks and herds of the Jews representing their thanksgiving for His benefits and their sorrow over their sins.

The New Covenant retained the same purpose for sacrifices—thanksgiving and sorrow—but replaced the sacrifices from flocks and herds with the sacrifice of self. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1)

The sacrifices of the Old Testament from the flocks and herds were merely a representation of the deeper concept of sacrifice. In a full, personal sacrifice, a person’s offering up a possession is not just an external action. It is an external action generated from an internal commitment. In “a living sacrifice”, a person commits the entire self, including all possessions, into the service of God.