I converted to Catholicism during my teen years and together with growing my faith, I worked on growing my understanding of Jesus and His sacrifice for humanity.
“Why a sacrifice? Why couldn’t He just, like, teach us how to live our best life, make miracles, declare that everyone who believes in Him and does the will of the Father will be happy and saved, and then just ascend into heaven in the midst of applauses and smiles?”
This was a question I had in the back of my mind for years. Fortunately I had also learned patience about Catholic teaching, from the adults who formed me. It takes time, experience, and discernment to understand every single truth of the Catholic faith. I compared it to high-school Calculus class; just because I couldn’t solve every single derivative and integral since the beginning of the school year didn’t mean mathematics are not true. It just meant I needed to build up my knowledge of mathematics.
Anyway, the answer came 19 years later, when I took my two playful toddlers and their friends to watch a children’s movie named The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I’m ashamed to admit I hadn’t even heard about C. S. Lewis up to that point and while placing popcorn in tiny hands, it all suddenly made sense.
The idea behind the movie is that the kingdom of Narnia was formed by a group of beings (founding fathers if you will), among them, a wise and kind king called Aslan who helped lay down the body of governing principles for Narnia –a Constitution– called the "Deep Magic from the Dawn of Time". In time, the White Witch (one of the founders) established a tyrannical government over Narnia and, afraid that the sons of Adam (Edmund and Peter) and daughters of Eve (Susan and Lucy) could challenge her absolute rule, she befriended, tempted, and misled Edmund into breaking the laws of the Deep Magic. Unbeknown to Edmund and his siblings, the law established that the punishment for his transgression was death at the hands of the White Witch. Aslan then speaks to the Witch alone, and on his return he announces that the Witch has renounced her claim on Edmund's life and instead, the Witch puts Aslan to death – as they had agreed in their private pact to spare Edmund.
Aha! So C. S. Lewis is trying to explain that in our human world, there also was an agreed-to principle in the beginning of times where the human race –in the person of Adam and Eve and their descendants– would face death if they broke certain laws, and the only acceptable alternative to this punishment was that someone else took the place of the transgressors voluntarily. But any other human to take Adam and Eve’s place would have to be put to death as well, so literally there was no winning. Unless… unless the person who took the place of the accused could, somehow, not remain dead. No human could do that. And there was no guarantee either that, if Adam and Eve’s descendants got saved from that specific transgression, that they wouldn’t fall into the trap of breaking any other earthly laws (killing, robbing, abusing, etc.) and deserve death again; so they not only needed someone to take the fallout for their mistakes, they needed a way out of their mistakes, by becoming adoptive descendants of a different lineage, an undefiled lineage with members who have never broken any principles or laws, ever. The lineage of God Himself.
So Jesus came to earth, as both man (son of man) and God (son of the Most High). The man-god.
In this context, his sacrifice makes perfect sense and the blood He shed on the cross after 40 floggings became the currency or price Jesus Christ paid so that us men would not face death and could instead, share in God’s eternal life by elevating our status from creatures to His adopted children.
Honestly, any other explanation of how the world works or was created sounds to me a lot less rational than this one.
For us Catholics, the god-man put himself in our place and paid with His blood so that we became part of the lineage of God the Father through baptism. And we accept as true that the blood of Jesus Christ deserves every bit of our wholehearted devotion.
To learn more about this specific Catholic devotion to honor the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ, click any of these excellent dedicated links: