Friday, February 19, 2010

Lent and Leviticus: Identifying with Christ

Leviticus 1:4
He is to lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him. 

I’m on a journey of reading through the bible.  Genesis is full of incredible stories, Exodus is the start of an amazing journey…and then you get to Leviticus.  If you’ve read through the bible you know how hard it is to keep your commitment once you enter into the book of Leviticus. 

It’s a book of do’s and don’ts.  Sacrificial regulations, camp rules, and policies pertaining to a new way of life.  It’s easy to get lost in the history and skim through the details.  But every now and then when I take the time to really dig deep, I am always amazed.  Even with these seemingly meaningless rituals, God instills divine purpose. 

I found one of those profound truths as I was reading the regulations for the burnt offering.  The purpose of the burnt offering was to make atonement for sin and be granted God’s acceptance.  There was a very specific way in which it was to be done.  One thing that really hit home to me was the requirement of the giver to lay hands on the head of the animal before the sacrifice took place.

At first glance, I thought that was a strange rule, but it didn’t really mean much to me until I realized the profound reality of what was taking place.  In the laying on of the hands, the giver was identifying with the one being given.  He was bringing himself to the level of the sacrifice, looking it in the eyes, and appreciating the gift of life that was about to be given for the sake of his atonement.

And then I realized that sadly, we have come a long way from that.  Don’t get me wrong, I am so thankful that we no longer have to make atonement for our sins in such a laborious way, but in the simplicity of the grace we have been given, something has been lost.  In the ultimate and complete sacrifice of Christ, we are no longer daily charged to identify with the one who gave His perfect life for us.  In the removing our hands from that precious head, we have lost our appreciation for the life that was given for us. 

I am so grateful for the gift of Christ, but I am also ashamed that I hardly take the time to identify with the life that was so freely given for me.  I don’t believe that this post coincidentally comes the week of Ash Wednesday.  For many believers, the next 40 days usher us into a sacred season.  A season of gratitude, a season of identification with the one who gave His all for us.  For many people, it is a time of giving up something in an attempt to identify with the one who gave His entirety on our behalf. 

This season of Lent, may we symbolically lay our hands on the head of the one who sacrificed and suffered so much on our behalf.  May we take the time to draw near to His side, look into His eyes, and shed tears of love and appreciation for the sacrifice He so willingly gave.

How are you identifying with your Sacrifice this season?

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