I'm having a hard time with this. I see so many verses in the Old Testament where God says not to practice human sacrifice of sons and daughters to other nations' gods. Why would God sacrifice His son? Thanks.
God’s Fifth Commandment forbids murder (Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 32:39; Psalm 31:15). God wants to protect human life because it is a time of grace; it is the only time people have to be brought to a confession of their sins and a confession of faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior (2 Corinthians 6:1-2; Hebrews 9:27).
Because of the importance of human life, the sacrificial system for God’s Old Testament people of Israel involved food or animals. You are correct in noting that God forbad human sacrifices. Scripture explains that people cannot save themselves or others. “No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them—the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough—so that they should live on forever and not see decay” (Psalm 49:7-9). Human sacrifices are sinful and accomplish nothing when it comes to the forgiveness of sins.
Because forgiveness of sins is God’s work, he determined how he would display justice by punishing sin and also display love by forgiving sinners. The giving of his Son in life and in death is at the heart and center of God’s plan of salvation. God gave of himself to save people who could not save themselves, no matter what they did (1 John 4:9-10). That is love—amazing love.