“Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wonderous works to the children of man! And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!” (Psalm 107:21-22)
Christ’s Thanksgiving Offering
We are quite familiar with the glorious truth that Jesus fulfilled the sacrificial system by His death on the cross. Christ, in His obedience to the Father’s will, laid down His life by becoming the final sin-offering and whole-burnt offering when He took the wrath of God upon himself for our sins, defeating sin, death and Satan by rising from the dead. Now us sinners can be brought near and reconciled to the Father, no longer enemies, but children, heirs of the promises of God through Christ Jesus.
But the Son of God’s sacrifice was also a thanksgiving offering! Have you ever noticed that Jesus thanked the Father for the bread and the cup at the first Lord’s Supper? He was showing that by His act of obedience, He gives thanks to the Father for allowing his body to be broken for our sins, and His blood to be poured out for our forgiveness (Luke 22:19).
The Christian’s Thanksgiving Offering
Christ fulfilling the thanksgiving offering in the sacrificial system does not take away the Christian’s privilege to offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, rather, it establishes it. In response to Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice, we do not bring an animal or a grain offering to God. Rather, believers are enabled to offer up Holy Spirit-enabled “Spiritual” sacrifices of thanksgiving, which Christ as our resurrected High Priest brings to the Father:
“You yourselves are…a holy priesthood, in order to offer Spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5)
One of the greatest honors I have had is the opportunity to witness the life of older believers, especially those who have traveled upon the Christian pilgrimage journey for many years, in watching them give over their will completely to the LORD to have full control to do what is good and most loving, so that they may be conformed to the image of His Son. This, I am convinced, is the whole of the Christian life for believers who have been raised with Christ. Our total abandonment to self (the willingness to be broken), is therefore our offering of thanksgiving in response to God for his merciful grace and steadfast love. On the other hand, “the real secret of an unsatified life lies too often in an unsurrendered will.” (Hudson Taylor).
As I think on how the peace, drink and grain offering were to be given to the LORD with thanksgiving for redeeming His people from sin, so should our lives be given wholeheartedly as an offering of thanksgiving for Christ’s final sacrifice in every circumstance, both in word and deed.
Christ’s resurrection secured for believers not only our salvation from the penalty of our sins, but also the guarantee from the Father to transform us in such a way that our heart and will is stirred to give God all the glory as His firstfruits-new creation people, so that we may present ourselves as a sweet-smelling thanksgiving offering to the Father.
In the Old Testament, the grain offering was to express thanksgiving for God’s provision. Furthermore, the peace offering was given for thanksgiving for the intimate fellowship His people have with Him. Likewise, the wave offering and the freewill offering were all done in thanksgiving to God for His goodness.
How much more are the recipients of God’s mercy in the new covenant, to present our “bodies as a LIVING sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1)! Although not yet made alive in our resurrected bodies, we present ourselves to God as those who already “have been brought from death to life” (Rom. 6:14)!
So, it's safe to say that thanksgiving is the mark of the resurrected ones. Unbelievers can only give thanks in the natural sense, but they can never give a pleasing offering of thanks for God’s saving grace. “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:8), because “whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23). The non-Christian’s thanksgiving is limited to circumstances. But “the soul that gives thanks can find comfort in everything; the soul that complains can find comfort in nothing.” (Hannah Whitall Smith). The Christian does not just give thanks on Thanksgiving holiday. Our thanksgiving is by faith through Christ and redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and empowered by the Holy Spirit. It’s spoken from the heart in a heavenly, new creation language, given to us from the Father, strengthened through suffering, solidified, and sanctified by the Spirit.
According to Colossians 2:6-7, thanksgiving is the beginning and the never-ending end of the Christian life: “Just as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him…, overflowing with thanksgiving. (Col.2:6-7). Thus, thanksgiving overflows out of our union with Christ, “giving thanks to the Father who qualified us to share with the saints in the inheritance of light, transferring us out of the authority of darkness, into the kingdom of his Beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, which is the forgiveness of sins.” (Col. 1:13-14)