Nearly every religion has an element of sacrifice in it, but sacrifice isn't what you think; in fact, it's just the opposite.
When people sacrifice to God or the Gods, they say they're doing it to show submission and gratitude, but what they're really doing is trying to bribe the fates and obligate God to act on their behalf.
The idea is simple: people want God to not destroy them with a flood or a volcano or they might want a bountiful harvest and lots of children or they might want God to forgive their sins so he doesn't punish them, so they leave him a gift, food or money usually, with every expectation that God will take their gift and grant their wish in return.
Consider this: what use does God have for money or food? It's the priests who benefit from your sacrifice and they use their false authority to make people believe God will grant their wish.
Then the Jesus story comes along and turns this idea inside out. Instead of men sacrificing their valuables to God, God sacrifices his most valuable to men. He gives in sacrifice his own son, a sacrifice he kept Abraham from making so many years before.
Instead of men obligating God to them with their sacrifice, God obligates men to him with his sacrifice. We don't really know what it means when we say Jesus was God's only son, but we do know we have nothing to give in return of nearly that magnitude.
It wouldn't be long before Christian priests returned to the old ways and started accepting sacrifice on behalf of God again. The worst being the selling of indulgences in the middle ages. God's reverse sacrifice was too powerful a concept though and it never took very long for men to realize they had to set things right again.
I don't know if Jesus knew he would be God's sacrifice to man, but when he went to the great temple, he knew this idea of sacrifice to God was a scam and the money changers were the most obvious manifestation of the scam. Jesus profoundly wanted people to see through their own delusions to what God really was so he attacked the money changers, even though doing so put his own life at risk.
This idea that God sacrificed for us is hard because it's much easier if all we have to do is offer up a lamb or a dove and believe God will grant our wishes. It's not that easy though. God's not for sale. He wanted us to know the truth. He tried several times to show us the truth, but we always returned to the easier path, so God brought the story of Abraham full circle by offering to us what he wouldn't let Abraham give to him: his own child.