The sacrificial principle forms the background for the
concepts of self-denial and self-sacrifice in the life and
teaching of Jesus. The underlying purpose of sacrifice in the
Old Testament was the offering of life to God. In accomplish¬
ing this purpose, sacrifice came to have three general aspectst
gift, communion and expiation. The various forms of sacrifice
were expressions of certain principles of substitution, repre¬
sentation, commutation of sacrifice, human sacrifice, and the
practice of vowing persons to Yahweh.
Expressions of self-denial and self-sacrifice appear in
the lives of early patriarchs, but with the prophetic denunciation of improper sacrificial activity came a spiritualising of
sacrificial terminology alongside the continued offering of
material sacrifice. Thus language indicating concepts of self-sacrifice appears to a great extent in the Psalms; but the
highest expression of self-sacrifice is found in the character
of the Suffering Servant of Deutero-Issiah.
The extra-canonical writings show how individual
sacrifices were considered to be offerings of one's own soul.
The Qumran discoveries shed light on the sacrificial cult and
suggest possible contacts with the concepts of self-denial
and self-sacrifice as practiced and taught by Jesus.
Certain attitudes and concepts with regard to selfdenial and self-sacrifice in the life and teaching of Jesus
bear the influence of Rabbinic Judaism. These include the
yoke of Christ, obedience to death, the doctrine of merit,
renunciation, finding greatness in service, humility and the
losing of one's life to find it.
In his attitude toward sacrifice, Jesus was conscious
of the real value of the cultus but was quite aware of its
limitations. He seems to have assumed a position of "detachment with acquiescence" in regard to the cult.
The unifying element in Jesus' thoughts concerning
the selX-oenial and self-sacrifice of his life is the princi¬
ple implicit in tae Old Testament sacrifices. Jesus sees ais
work defined in the Suffering Servant.
In this thesis a distinction is made between the Jesus
of history and the kerygma of the church with regard to the
Son of man sayings. The conclusion is drawn that Jesus united
in his mind the three different usages of the term Son of man
and employs the title in clarifying his intention of fulfiling
his work of self-denial and self-sacrifice.
Jesus' ethical teaching concerning self-denial and
self-sacrifice demanded that the disciples understand their
personal welfare to be subservient to the work of the kingdom.
He taught that greatness and exaltation came through service,
humility and suffering. All of this has come to be included
in the terms self-denial and self-sacrifice.
In the fourth Gospel there is evidence that special
Son of sum words may be quite reliable for presenting the mind
of Jesus. This is particularly true of John 3:14, 8:23, 12:32
and 12:34 which express belief in only the rejection and exaltation of Jesus.
With regard to self-denial and self-sacrifice in the
life of Jesus according to the presentation of the fourth
Gospel, the author editorially declares that God gives Jesus
for the world. He uses the good shepherd narrative to present
the passion of Jesus as a voluntary self-sacrifice.
The fourth Gospel emphasises the parallel sufferings
which the disciples are to undergo. Some of the sayings may
well present a tradition nearer the common original than those
of the Synoptics. This seems particularly true of John 12:25,
where to hate one's life is to keep it, and John 13:16, where
a servant is not greater than his master. This Gospel indicates that self-denial and self-sacrifice formed a principal
facet of Jesus' teaching
The thesis concludes with the Inference that there is
no real distinction between the terms self-denial and self-sacrifice and that these two concepts become the unifying
force which is central in Jesus* life and teaching as the
means of accomplishing his purpose of offering the Kingdom
of God to all.