“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1: 29b
I’m reading through the book of Leviticus – the handbook, if you will, for the Jewish priests. It is tedious, legalistic, and full of picky details on burnt offerings, grain offerings, fellowship offerings, sin offerings, and guilt offerings. Acts of omission and commission are labeled as sin. Rules of sacrifice for the common members of the community are distinguished from sins committed by the leaders.
And then there’s the blood.
An innocent animal would die to atone for the sin of a human being. The act of laying one’s hand on the head of the animal would symbolically transfer sin from the sinner to the innocent. The individual would then slaughter the animal and present it to the priest:
“Then the priest is to take some of the blood with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and pour out the rest of the blood at the base of the altar.” Leviticus 4: 30
The sacrificial system of the Old Testament was nothing if not bloody. Words like gross, nauseating, and vulgar come to mind.
Considering the innocent animal sacrificed was often one raised, loved, and nurtured by the family from birth makes the sacrifice horrific and even some would say, cruel.
Why? Why would God require such a horrific act to atone for sin?
Because sin itself is horrific. Our sin is ugly. It is gross, nauseating, and vulgar. The sacrifice needed to be horrific because our sin is horrific.
How easy it is for 21st-century, Western-culture believers to proclaim Jesus the “lamb of God” and the “once-for-all sacrifice.” To truly grasp the grave and sobering significance of those words, we must go back and read Leviticus. We must respect the powerful God of the Old Testament to fully embrace the loving sacrifice of His Son in the New Testament.
As I celebrate my risen Savior, I am rejoicing that He is the once-for-all sacrifice. I’m also remembering that it is my great sin that required a great Savior.
Jesus, I’m horrified by my own sin. I acknowledge that my sin deserves my blood to be spilled. I worship You today as the lamb without blemish – the lamb who took away not only the sins of the whole world, but MY sin. I’m amazed and grateful as I consider that you died for ME. Unlike the bull or goat or lamb killed in Old Testament times, You did have a choice. You chose the Cross because you chose me. I am so very, very grateful for my salvation.