Quick Thought Thursday: Jesus is Far Better than a “Scapegoat”

One of the things I like to do as I read the scriptures is write down just one thing, one quick takeaway from the section. For me, it’s a process that helps me move from simply reading the Word to allowing the Word to read me.

It’s a simple practice that anybody can do, it helps to reinforce what I’ve read, and it gives me an opportunity to engage with what the Holy Spirit might be trying to teach me.

This is my “quick thought” from today’s reading in Leviticus 16-18

“He will lay both of his hands on the goat’s head and confess over it all the wickedness, rebellion, and sins of the people of Israel. In this way, he will transfer the people’s sins to the head of the goat. Then a man specially chosen for the task will drive the goat into the wilderness.” ~Leviticus 16:21

Leviticus makes it clear that sin is a serious thing and God won’t ignore it, but atonement and the healing of God’s beloved children are immeasurably more serious!

When a child breaks their arm, the story doesn’t stop there. If it did, we’d call it a tragedy, and God’s good creation is no tragedy. Instead, when a child breaks an arm the story immediately moves to how the parents and doctors will work towards healing and restoration. That’s the reality of God, he doesn’t stay fixated on the problem of sin, even if we do. Instead, he starts revealing his pre-existing plan for atonement and healing.

We see echoes of God’s ultimate plan for atonement in the scapegoat of Leviticus. Similar to the scapegoat, all sins for all time were transferred to Jesus, and he was driven out in our place so that we could be healed and live into the reality of our true heritage as beloved children of God!

Is Jesus our substitutionary atoning sacrifice? Yes! However, to stop there and focus on the sin we’ve been saved from is as limiting as saying Jesus is nothing more than a “scapegoat.” You can be grateful for the scapegoat, but you can’t be healed by it, and there’s no relationship to be had with it. Jesus didn’t just save us from something, he saved us for something far greater, and he’s healing us as he leads us into life with him!

So Jesus did far more than the scapegoat of Leviticus could ever do. Jesus wasn’t just our substitute saving us from death, he’s the atoning sacrifice who saved us for life because we are his beloved. In this way, Jesus more fully reveals who we are, who he is, and how we can rightly relate to him: beloved children of the Good Father!

This is what I heard in today’s reading, what did you hear?

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