That is certainly a great and noble sacrifice. But it occurred to me recently that nobler and even more admirable sacrifices have probably been made.
Consider these two individuals:
1. Bert is convinced he can save all mankind from eternal damnation if he is prepared to die horribly after which he will then be resurrected. He makes the sacrifice.
2. Tim is convinced he can save the lives of several individuals (perhaps his own family) if he is prepared to die rather horribly, period. Tim being an atheist, supposes death is final. He makes the sacrifice.
Both acts are noble. But surely the second is rather more admirable. A far greater sacrifice (horrible and final death, rather than horrible, but merely temporary, death) is willingly made in order to save far fewer individuals (a handful of individuals rather than all of humanity).
Jesus’ sacrifice, assuming he knew what he was doing, is on par with 1. I am willing to bet that several atheists have made sacrifices on par with 2. If so, their sacrifice is more admirable than that made by Jesus.
Can we now identify some actual cases like 2?
[P.S. That some atheists have made sacrifices more admirable than Jesus' is the sort of suggestion that even non-religious minds tend unconsciously to skirt around. It's just too shockingly heretical even for them. Yet, now we've dragged the thought into the light of day, it does, indeed, seem pretty obvious, doesn't it?
In fact, if I knew that I could save all humanity by suffering a horrible, but only temporary, death, perhaps even a corrupt old sinner like me would make the sacrifice. I suspect most of us would, in fact.
That's kind of an uplifting thought, isn't it? Most of us would do what Jesus did.].