EXODUS 29:1-30:10 | MATTHEW 26:14-46 | PSALM 31:19-24 | PROVERBS 8:14-26
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The information given to Moses on the consecration and ordination of the priesthood is excruciatingly detailed. The many blood offerings for a variety of purposes is carefully followed for generations to come. That’s how it was: a live sacrifice that bears the sins of the person or the occasion, and was good for that one time only.
Without the shedding of blood–the source of all life–there is no atonement of sin. And so, the animals served this purpose. As much as possible, those with the least blemishes, i.e., the most perfect ones were chosen to serve as a sacrificial offering. And it all happened in the most structured way administered by the priests in the Temple.
Several thousand years later, as documented in the Book of Matthew, another sacrifice is being readied for the altar. Only, this time it is God incarnate preparing to be the one to take on the sins of the entire world, and to become the perfect sacrifice. Once and for all. No more animals needed. And no priests necessary.
Jesus, the Son of God–God himself–has provided for a sacrifice that will be the ultimate one. He was the Messiah come unto his own, but his own received him not. In fact, they betrayed him. And so, the plan was revised to allow for the divinity of the Messiah to be made available to one and all– both Jew and Gentile could now boldly become the beneficiaries of this great atonement.
And so, Jesus prepares to become this sacrifice. He is God himself, and yet he is human. There is none other like him. Who is this man? How could he take upon himself all my sins and be my sacrifice so that I have no need to bring another sacrifice to the altar ever again? Why is he doing this for me? What do I pay him?
Ponder on these things, my friend. May it be that the awareness of your great need for a permanent atonement will begin to become a clear one. May it be that you would recognize this for what it is: an amazing gift.
Jesus, the sacrifice, tells his disciples: 26“Take and eat; this is my body.” 27 Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins”
And soon it will be time for the Son of God to bear the sins of the world. And it will be a final sacrifice. And it will be the perfect one.
Turning now to the Psalms, we find David affirming his faith in the God of his fathers and forefathers to whom he cries out every now again in the most plaintive way, not unlike our own cries:21 Praise be to the LORD,
for he showed his wonderful love to me when I was in a besieged city.
22 In my alarm I said, “I am cut off from your sight!”
Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help.
Finally, the passage from Proverbs is one in which we hear God himself describe himself. This is the same God who is now preparing to give himself up as the ultimate sacrifice. The God from whom all things flow is now readying himself in all his humanity and his divinity to pay the ultimate price — his own blood. For me. So that I might never again need to atone for my sins with an animal sacrifice. And so that I might approach him forevermore directly.
I have no need for Aaron or his descendants. What a plan! What a gift!
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word. Amen.