Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday - The Perfect Sacrifice

Watchword for Good Friday - For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. John 3:16

Psalm 44:17-26

17 All this came upon us,
though we had not forgotten you;
we had not been false to your covenant.
18 Our hearts had not turned back;
our feet had not strayed from your path.
19 But you crushed us and made us a haunt for jackals;
you covered us over with deep darkness.
20 If we had forgotten the name of our God
or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
21 would not God have discovered it,
since he knows the secrets of the heart?
22 Yet for your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.
23 Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep?
Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever.
24 Why do you hide your face
and forget our misery and oppression?
25 We are brought down to the dust;
our bodies cling to the ground.
26 Rise up and help us;
rescue us because of your unfailing love.

Exodus 40:24-Leviticus 1:17

The Burnt Offering

1 The LORD called to Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting. He said, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When anyone among you brings an offering to the LORD, bring as your offering an animal from either the herd or the flock. 3 “‘If the offering is a burnt offering from the herd, you are to offer a male without defect. You must present it at the entrance to the tent of meeting so that it will be acceptable to the LORD. 4 You are to lay your hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on your behalf to make atonement for you. 5 You are to slaughter the young bull before the LORD, and then Aaron’s sons the priests shall bring the blood and splash it against the sides of the altar at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 6 You are to skin the burnt offering and cut it into pieces. 7 The sons of Aaron the priest are to put fire on the altar and arrange wood on the fire. 8 Then Aaron’s sons the priests shall arrange the pieces, including the head and the fat, on the wood that is burning on the altar. 9 You are to wash the internal organs and the legs with water, and the priest is to burn all of it on the altar. It is a burnt offering, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the LORD. 10 “‘If the offering is a burnt offering from the flock, from either the sheep or the goats, you are to offer a male without defect. 11 You are to slaughter it at the north side of the altar before the LORD, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall splash its blood against the sides of the altar. 12 You are to cut it into pieces, and the priest shall arrange them, including the head and the fat, on the wood that is burning on the altar. 13 You are to wash the internal organs and the legs with water, and the priest is to bring all of them and burn them on the altar. It is a burnt offering, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the LORD.14 “‘If the offering to the LORD is a burnt offering of birds, you are to offer a dove or a young pigeon. 15 The priest shall bring it to the altar, wring off the head and burn it on the altar; its blood shall be drained out on the side of the altar. 16 He is to remove the crop and the feathers[a] and throw them down east of the altar where the ashes are. 17 He shall tear it open by the wings, not dividing it completely, and then the priest shall burn it on the wood that is burning on the altar. It is a burnt offering, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the LORD.

For an excellent summary of the purpose of burnt offerings please read this link it is very helpful in connecting it with the sacrifice of Noah and also Abraham of His son and how the covenant promises of God are rooted in the burnt sacrifice as well.

Mark 1:1-8

John the Baptist Prepares the Way
1 The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, 2 as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way”—
3 “a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord
make straight paths for him.’”

4 And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6 John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptize you with[e] water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Reflections: On Good Friday, we remember Jesus’ innocent suffering and death to make atonement for our sins past, present and future. In Leviticus, we learn of the burnt offering, one of many offerings the Israelites made to come into God’s presence. Notice the interplay between the priest’s role and the role of the worshipper, who brought either a bull from the herd, a sheep or lamb from the flock or a bird. The idea though was that the animal or bird was without defect, meaning a valuable part of the flock or herd. The worshipper laid hands on the animal to identify with it, and the idea was the animal without sin was taking on the sin of the person. Notice it was not a particular sin, but the sinfulness of the person. Then the priests performed various other duties including splashing blood on the altar. This offering was the way in the Old Testament the Israelites honored the covenant God had made with them to become one with them. It reflected the earlier sacrifices in Genesis of Noah and his animals, and Abraham and his son, Issac. They also point to the ultimate sacrifice Jesus would make on the cross.

It is John the Baptist who comes today in the first chapter of Mark to announce the Good News of Jesus to the people. He preached a baptism of repentance, urging the people to turn from their sins to prepare for Jesus, who would wash them with the Holy Spirit. A little while later John will exclaim, “Look the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”, thus continuing to make the connection for the Israelites with the burnt offering of Leviticus 1.

And today on Good Friday, we remember the sacrifice of God’s Son Jesus, who was obedient unto death on the cross. Take some time to remember what Jesus did for you. Jesus’ death allows you to come into the presence of a holy God, as you trust in Him for the forgiveness of your sin. It enables us to enter into the tabernacle of God’s presence, and offer him our lives as a living sacrifice, as Paul tells us in Romans 12:1-2. It is the basis for all of our obedience in response to Jesus’ great sacrifice for us.

Upon your walls, O Jerusalem, I have posted sentinels; all day and all night they shall never be silent. Isaiah 62:6

I handed on to you what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

All-knowing and all-understanding Father, nourish us with your grace and allow us the understanding of joy after mourning, peace after tragedy and love beyond our comprehension. In Christ's holy name, Amen.

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