And the ransom He paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. 1 Peter 1:18
Animal sacrifice seems so foreign, maybe even cruel, in our day. Yet it was God’s way of helping people know that their sin was costly, injurious, and serious. Their sin didn’t just impact them, but it touched all they influenced and damaged their relationship with God. Taking something precious to them, something of great value, a lamb from their own flock, cost them, hurt them, and opened their eyes to the seriousness of their rebellion and failure.
Imagine with me. It is a hot dusty day in a hot dusty land. The wind rises, blowing hair into the eyes of a young man. All around him are the noises and smells of the market and temple. The air is filled with the bleating of sheep, the lowing of oxen and the shouting of people. Each step he takes he is bustled and pushed by those around him. They all are heading to the same destination. The temple.
The young man presents his lamb to the Levite priest before him.
The priest examines the lamb thoroughly. He opens his mouth. Checks the lamb’s hooves. Runs his hands up and down each leg. He checks for flaws, defects.
The priest nods solemnly. Relief floods the young man’s heart. His offering was perfect. Acceptable. A weight lifts off his shoulders. He is forgiven.
Did you notice?
Did you see?
The priest didn’t look the young man up and down. He didn’t glance his shoes, look in his eyes, or ask for a record of how he spent his time in the last week. There is no third degree or scrutiny of the man’s heart and character. The young man did not have to be perfect or acceptable to be forgiven.
The sacrifice needed to be perfect and acceptable. The sacrifice needed to be blemish free.
The Bible says “you must bring to the Lord as the penalty for your sin a female from the flock, either a sheep or a goat. This is a sin offering with which the priest will purify you from your sin, making you right with the Lord.” Leviticus 5:6
The Old Testament sacrificial code is a shadow and a foreshadowing. It shows us how we are forgiven. It shows us how we become acceptable with God. And it began with Abraham’s near-sacrifice of his only son Isaac. When Abraham was set to sacrifice Isaac, a scapegoat was provided in his place. And it continued: When the Israelites in Egypt were preparing to flee with Moses, God had them shed the blood of a spotless lamb so that death would pass over them.
Just as the young man had his sin covered by the blood of the acceptable lamb so too we come before God covered and made acceptable by an offering.
Then, the perfect Lamb of God entered the scene.
The offering of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.
And just as the priest didn’t examine the young man to see if he was blemish free God doesn’t look at us, he only looks at the Lamb of God who takes away our sins. The blood of Jesus, the Lamb, covers us and makes us acceptable.
Did you see that?
Did you feel that?
All along, God had been telling the story of Jesus through the lives of His people. Then He sent His own sacrificial Lamb. But this sacrifice was good enough to cover all sins – once, and for all. Only Jesus, who lived among His creation, facing the same temptations as you and I, but without sinning, could take all of the sins of the world onto Himself. Only He could provide that sacrifice for redemption. Only He could bring justification.
We don’t need to be perfect to come to God. The perfect sacrifice was given in Jesus. When we first come to God (pre-Christian) we are totally blemished and defective because of sin. The Bible says we are dead to God. We are made acceptable by trusting in the sacrifice of Jesus. This is what faith is.
“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.” Romans 5:1
Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. Ephesians 3:12
Our life as Christians and right standing with God continues to depend upon this sacrifice. It is not by our own effort or goodness that we can know God. We can never measure up or become unblemished by working for it. When God looks at us He sees the righteous record of His Son. We are right now acceptable to God.
“He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.” Ephesians 1:7
We are instructed and encouraged to walk out our faith by living lives that are pleasing to God but this is a process that takes a lifetime. As we “clean our lives up” though we don’t need to feel far away from God or not good enough to know Him. . If we are a Christian there is no limitation or separation between God and us. Jesus gave His life so that we can know God and be called a child of God. We can know God.
This should give us freedom and joy and gratitude and a sense of awe – the WOW response. Let’s live like this. Let’s live in this freedom and forgiveness. Lets live responding to the grace of God.
The sacrifice has been paid. We are all forgiven.