After having considered the wrong conclusions reached in this gotquestions article in my blog article “Atheists on the Divinity of Jesus,” I think it is now time to consider the question in the article, “If God hates human sacrifice, how could Jesus’ sacrifice be the payment for our sins?”
It is true that God hates human sacrifice and the article from gotquestions.org was correct in using the scriptures in Deuteronomy and the Second of Kings in demonstrating that fact. But what it failed to do was demonstrate in what way Jesus dying for mankind was a sacrifice. First of all, it was neither the Father (God) that sacrificed his son, nor was it Jesus that somehow committed suicide, claiming to do it for God and for humankind (like in the case of “suicide or death by cop,” wherein Jesus somehow volunteered, demanded, to be put to death). The guilty parties for killing Jesus were the Romans and Jewish religious leaders. In fact, Peter squarely put the whole blame on the religious leaders. (By the way, no one amongst the Romans or Jews considered what they were doing as some form of human sacrifice. In their minds, they were exacting capital punishment on a criminal.)
But now comes the important detail of how God viewed Jesus death. As the links detail, Jehovah accepted Christ’s death as a sacrifice in the sense that it provided the necessary “ransom” to meet and fulfill the legal requirements set out in the Mosaic Law. Did God take pleasure in seeing Jesus tortured and put to death? Did Jesus get some sadistic pleasure from the pain of dying? No. (I know that some will cite Isaiah 53:10 that uses some poetic language that seems to imply that God did enjoy it, but that is a misinterpretation of the scripture.) By example, consider the illustration I made here about a father and son trying to save people from a sinking boat. Now, if the sea swallows up both the drowning people and the son that attempted to rescue them, would the father really be happy about that? No. But now, if the son was successful (which Jesus was by way of his loyalty even in the face of death), what a joy it was for everyone concerned. In that case, the father may actually exclaim to his son, “I’m so happy I allowed you to risk your life. It helped so many.” That is exactly the way that God was pleased to see his son maintain loyalty even though it meant being killed and temporarily dead until Jehovah resurrected him.
So Jesus’ death was a sacrifice in that he fulfilled the Law. This resulted in his Father, Jehovah God, extending the benefits of that death to all mankind.