“The evidence that Jesus and His apostles understood the cross in terms of sacrifice is overwhelming. There is something deeper here, however, than the struggle of bewildered disciples to find concepts by which to explain the tragedy which had overtaken their master.
It was not human ingenuity that discovered in the Old Testament sacrifices an interpretative framework for the cross. On the contrary, God Himself had provided that framework.
In the order of knowing, the Levitical sacrifices came before the sacrifice of Calvary; but in the order of being, the sacrifice of Christ came first.
He was the Lamb ordained before the foundation of the world, and the Levitical system was but His shadow. We need to be careful here.
Christ was not a priest only metaphorically. He was the true priest, and His sacrifice the real sacrifice.
It was the Aaronic priesthood that was figurative, and its sacrifices that were metaphorical. Just as Jesus was ‘the Root of David’ (Rev. 5:5), so He was the root of the Passover, the sin offering and the scapegoat, all of which were divinely configured to prefigure Him.
The understanding of Jesus’ death as a sacrifice is not a human convention, but a divine revelation.”
–Donald Macleod, Christ Crucified: Understanding the Atonement (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2014), 65.