Jess and I are continuing our Bible reading plan that takes us chronologically through the entirety of the Bible. We are currently in Leviticus. I don’t know if you know much about the particular book, but I can assure you that it is not the most interesting of reads. The book contains mostly two things: rules and the sacrifices you make if you break them. There are lots of very detailed instructions as to how the Jewish priests are to conduct the sacrifices. Not exactly what I would call riveting. It is God’s word; thus, it is good— it’s just not the most engaging.
Chapter 16 of Leviticus goes into great detail as to how the Day of Atonement was to go for the Jews. This is the day that all of Israel was to bring their offerings to be sacrificed to God as a payment for their sins. The word atonement in this sense means to be “made right with God.” It was through their sacrifices that the Jews were forgiven for their sins. The Day of Atonement is still practiced by Jews all over the world today.
In the middle of the chapter, there is a peculiar commandment given to the Israelites.
Have you ever heard the term ‘scapegoat’? Well, this is where it comes from. As scripture stated, all of the sins of the Jews were placed on the goat. Then, it was let go in the wilderness, seemingly to never be seen again. This was a real-life metaphor for God forgiving the Jews. Their sin would become like that goat and disappear forever. For the Christian, we get more than just a metaphor.
What happened to the goat is what happened for us when Jesus went to the cross. All of our sins were placed on him. When I say all, I mean every single one. In case you don’t believe me, here’s what the Bible says:
1 Peter 2:24 “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree”
Romans 5:8 “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
2 Corinthians 5:21 “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Colossians 2:14 “By canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”
Isaiah 53:5 “But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.”
1 John 2:2 “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”
The list is almost endless.
When Jesus died on the cross and was put in the tomb, our sins died with him. The difference is that Christ came back; but he left our sins in that tomb, never to be seen again. Jesus was and is our forever scapegoat. He is far more than just a metaphor or symbolism; he physically took on the burden.
Do you believe that? A lot of people are quick to answer ‘yes’ to that question but does how you view yourself and your life reflect that? Do you treat yourself as someone who has been forgiven, or do you carry the weight of your sin on your back?
I think that we all struggle with the idea that our sin is no longer our own. We want to hold on to our failures and beat ourselves up over them. We wear it like a scarlet letter to remind ourselves of our shortcomings. Here’s the thing: your sins are not yours anymore. Jesus paid for them, and he did so with his life. He willingly took on that load for us, a load that we could not bear.
Stop trying to hold onto what is not yours. Stop telling yourself that you are defined by your sin. Stop carrying what Christ willingly took out of your hands. Jesus knew every stupid thing that we would do when he died for us, and he still did so without any hesitation. The cross covers all of your sin: past, present, and future. They were all placed on the head of our beautiful savior. He chose to be our scapegoat. He chose to take our sin to a place in which it will never be seen again. He made those decisions because he loves you like crazy. So, you have to decide if you are going to accept that forgiveness and love because God has already decided that you were worth it.
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