He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf,
so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
-2 Corinthians 5:21
- a person made to bear the blame for others*
In recent months, Washington, D.C. has been shaken by a series of scandals.
One particularly nasty one involved the targeting of groups perceived to be politically dangerous to the administration by the Internal Revenue Service.
When the scandal broke, the administration called the actions the work of a few “rogue agents.” It’s a useful political tactic we’re used to seeing: Throw the blame on a lesser being and send him to the gallows. It gives the impression of cleansing whatever party is in power and deflects criticism.
We call the people who get thrown under the bus “scapegoats.” The concept is rooted in Old Testament law:
Aaron…shall take the two goats and present them before the LORD at the doorway of the tent of meeting. Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats, one lot for the LORD and the other lot for the scapegoat. Then Aaron shall offer the goat on which the lot for the LORD fell, and make it a sin offering.
Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins: and he shall lay them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who stands in readiness. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a solitary land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.
– Leviticus 16:7-9, 21-22
It hardly seems fair. Two totally innocent creatures had to be killed annually to pay for the sins of the nation. This day was known as the Day of Atonement, and it served to cleanse Israel before God. It was an imperfect process, however, without power in itself to remove sin. A weary people carried their sins all year until the ceremony, only to begin another cycle of sin. No power was imparted to walk away from the bondage of evil.
The Law was the schoolmaster to teach us to recognize our transgressions.
The goats offered as a sin offering and scapegoat were only shadows of The Sacrifice to come. No mere creation could release God’s world from itself. It would take a perfect, innocent Lamb from another realm with the power to carry away the sins of mankind and to lead us into freedom from its bondage.
Think of the love God has for us to create such an elaborate plan for our redemption. Think of the patience with which He waited to execute the rescue. Think of the pain He suffered to gain our release.
Treasure it with all your heart. The scapegoat has carried every dark secret of your life away into the wilderness. The Innocent One has washed your black heart with His blood. You are freed from sin and empowered to live in holiness as your gift back to Him.
All He asks in return?
Go, and sin no more. – John 8:11