Truth, Torture, and Trepidation

February 7, 2020 at 11:26 am | Posted in John | 10 Comments
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Pontius Pilate had been give the appointment as governor of Judea by the Emperor Tiberius. It was not a glamorous or easy post. Pilate was known as a vindictive (sometimes petty) and petulant politician and military commander. To say that he had a troubled relationship with the Jewish people and their religious leaders before they brought Jesus to him would be an understatement.

One of his first decisions after becoming Governor was to place Roman standards with Caesar’s image on them into the the Jewish Temple. The Jewish people, already resentful of Roman occupation and taxation in their holy city, staged a sit-down protest for five days outside of Pilate’s house. In repsonse, he threatened to kill them, but they wouldn’t back down, and he was forced to relent and have the standards removed, but, as you can imagine, he remained acrimonious and held a grudge.

On later occasions he would try to get emblems proclaiming Caesar’s divinity into Herod’s palace, and even the Temple again, including the most sacrosanct inner section known as the Holy of Holies. Herod’s sons responded by peitioning Tiberius, who rebuked and reprimanded Pilate, making him take the emblems out.

Pilate also took money from the Temple treasury to pay for an aqueduct, which caused a mob scene or a riot, in which he didn’t let his soliders use their swords, although some Jewish protesters were clubbed to death and others were run over by chariots.

On still another occasion, in Galilee, he had some Jewish worshipers killed in the middle of their religious sacrifices.

This background helps to explain some of the bickering, bargaining, and badgering that went on between Pilate and the Jewish leaders concerning what was to be done with Jesus after His arrest.

Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.

John 18:38

Pilate found no fault in Jesus. No one ever really did. However, even as he tried to be politically expedient he found himself becoming fearful.

But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?

John 18:29

Pilate hinted that this was what he wanted the Jewish leaders to do.

Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.

John 18:40

Barabbas, named “the son of the father” (bar = the son; abba = the father) was a terrorist and a real insurgent zealot who sought to overthrow Rome’s rule in his homeland.

Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him.

John 19:1

This would be the first of two beatings Jesus received at the hands of the Romans (in addition to the blows and abuse suffered during the accusations made against Him by the Jewish High Priest and council, and their questioning of Him). There were three types of beatings used as punishment by the Romans, and the word translated as “scourged” in John 19:1 was the first type – fustigatio in Latin, from which we get the little-used English word “fustigation” and which was the least-severe of the three types. It was used for lesser offenses, but it was still plenty bad. The second-worst beating was called flagellatio (“flagellation” in English), and may have been the only type not administered to Jesus. The third type was verberatio (incorporated into the Engish word “reverberation”), so called because the blows administered to the victim were so harsh and loud that they could be heard from a distance. This was the beating that was given to convicted criminals after the sentence of crucifixion had been handed down. It involved a whip with multiple strands which had been enhanced with shards of sharp bone, metal, and possibly glass tied to them. It flayed off the skin and exposed the internal organs. Many recipients did not survive it and thus never made it to their crosses. The verberatio was intended to dehumanize the victim and to deter other would-be criminals, while at the same time taking away any sympathy the crowd of spectators might have felt seeing someone less deformed and grotesque being crucified.

And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe,

John 19:2

This crown was probably made from the thorns of the date palm tree – thorns that grew up to 12 inches in length.

And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands.

John 19:3

This mockery and additional abuse was not part of the official legal sentencing, but was cruelly allowed by Pilate or the Roman officer in charge as sort of a bonus, letting these sadistic soldiers have some of what they considered to be fun.

Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him.

John 19:4

Pilate thought the Jews would have sympathy toward Jesus now, and would be satisfied that He had suffered enough. The scene was staged to be dramatic as Jesus was presented as thorougly beaten and non-threatening.

Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!

John 19:5

This was the Son of Man, in Whom no fault was found, as attested by the “world’s” representative, Pilate/Rome, on at least three separate occasions.

When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him. The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid;

John 19:6-8 (emphasis added)

I stated earlier that, as Pilate tried to dismiss Jesus with a claim that “truth” was relative or unknowable, he had begun to be fearful. As a Roman pagan who at least professed a belief in hundreds of deities, the possibility that he might be torturing a real God (or even THE real God) was starting to make him more and more nervous.

A Less Lurid Account of the Crucifixion

January 21, 2020 at 5:09 pm | Posted in John | Leave a comment
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Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away. And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha:

John 19:16-17

Golgotha was also known as “Calvary,” which is from the Latin word for “skull.” It is possible that the place was named that because its shape bore a resemblance to a human skull.

Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.

John 19:18

The Biblical narrative of the events which commenced after Jesus’s arrest, and some of the historical records and information concerning the Roman penal system give us insight into some of the terrible beatings, humiliation, mockery, and abuse that Jesus suffered as a prelude to His Crucifixion. These things are difficult to talk about, especially knowing that He endured such suffering for you and me, unworthy as we were to receive the blessings of that kind of love and sacrifice. John 19:18 says, “Where they crucified him…” without going into detail about exactly what it meant to be crucified under the Roman penal system. If you’ve attended church long enough, especially around Easter or Good Friday, you’ve probaby heard a Bible teacher or preacher go to great lengths to describe just how horrible death by crucifixion was. Specific information about the nerve centers where the spikes were driven, the pain of asphyxiation, the agony of dehydration and muscle cramping, etc., is used to paint a very vivid picture which is largely absent from the Biblical account. This raises a question: “Why didn’t the Gospel writers go into more detail about the mechanics and nuances of Jesus’s Crucifixion?” I believe there may be several reasons, but the two that seem apparent to me are:

1. The Gospel writers knew that their original readers would have been very familiar with crucifixion since they were under Roman rule and subjugation, so there was no need to go into more detail.

2. While the physical torture of Jesus certainly plays a significant role in our redemption, and must never be minimized, it was not His physical suffering alone (or even primarily) that paid for our sins. Remember, the full weight of God’s wrath against the sins of every person who has been, or will be, saved was poured out upon Jesus in the eternal realm (Isaiah 53:10-12), and this was a type of punishment which no finite human could comprehend, and which no human eyes were allowed to see (Luke 23:44-46). It was a transaction between the Heavenly Father and His Divine Son (Romans 3:25; I John 2:2, 4:10), and it goes beyond the ability of mere mortals to put into words that could truly do it justice.

John mentions the two criminals crucified on either side of Jesus, but does not tell us that one of them trusted Christ before he died and was saved.

And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was Jesus Of Nazareth The King Of The Jews. This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin.

John 19:19-20

The title, “King of the Jews,” was intended as mockery, but it was a true statement about Jesus, and was written in three languages, proclaiming it religiously, culturally, and legally.

Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews.

John 19:21 (emphasis added)

Suddenly the chief priests who had vehemently opposed Jesus as the true “I AM” were now more than willing to have those words appended to His name.

Pilate answered, What I have written I have written.

John 19:22

Pilate exacted a bit of petty revenge for what he felt they had forced him into doing.

Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout.

John 19:23

The soldiers divided four of Jesus’s separate articles of clothing among themselves: His head covering, His belt/girdle, His outer garment, and His sandals. His seamless undergarment remained, and would have been ruined if torn, so they gambled for it.

They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did. Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.

John 19:24-25

Four women remained near the Cross as Jesus was crucified: His mother, Mary; His mother’s sister (unnamed here, but traditionally known as Salome); another Mary, the wife of Cleophas, who was James’s and John’s mother; and Mary Magdalene.

When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!

John 19:26

Jesus again used the term “woman” as a public name of respect from an adult son.

Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.

John 19:27

Joseph, Mary’s husband, was now deceased, and Jesus’s earthly brothers were not yet believers, so He appointed John to take care of Mary.

After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.

John 19:28-29

Having earlier refused the soporific wine, Jesus now drank the sour wine.

When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

John 19:30 (emphasis added)

The Greek term for “it is finished” (tetelestai) means that Jesus’s work of redemption for His people on the Cross was acommplished. The sin debt had been paid in full. He then laid down His own life.

The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.

John 19:31

Who Carried the Cross?

March 6, 2018 at 3:16 pm | Posted in John, Luke, Q&A | 3 Comments
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Question: John 19:16-17 says that Jesus carried His cross. HOWEVER, Matthew 27:32, Mark 15:21, and Luke 23:26 say that soldiers carried cross. Which one is true?

Answer: First of all, Matthew 27:32, Mark 15:21, and Luke 23:26 do not say that soldiers carried the Cross. They say that a man named Simon carried it. Jesus carried the Cross AND Simon carried it. They both did. Jesus first, and then Simon the rest of the way. Jesus in His humanity knew what it meant to be so tired and injured that He could not carry a burden that others were demanding of Him. In this respect, although He is God, He can still sympathize with us when we are forced to carry some spiritual or emotional or other burden that is too much for us. We can pass our burden to Him in faith, believing in Him, and He will take it for us without despising us for it.

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 4:15

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

I Peter 5:7

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

Matthew 11:28-29

The Humanity of Jesus

December 21, 2017 at 1:38 pm | Posted in Incarnation, John, Luke | 5 Comments
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At the most festive time of the year, make sure that you intentionally discuss with your children some of the most wonderful Biblical truths about Jesus’s birth, such as:

1. Incarnation
2. Advent
3. The Condescension
4. The Virgin Birth
and
5. The Humanity of Jesus

“…[L]ittle Lord Jesus, no crying He makes…” go the words to a popular Christmas carol. But is this an accurate representation of the infant Christ? Christmas is a great time to explain to kids that Jesus, in His earthly incarnation, was indeed FULLY human. He experienced human emotions. He felt hunger, fatigue, joy, sadness, and the full range of feelings, although never sinfully.

Popular Christian art has tended to picture baby Jesus as serene, often times surrounded by a halo or corona of light, but the image of a child who stares blissfully and knowingly at all the adults around Him, never crying or giggling, seems more creepy than holy. Your kids might be fascinated to think of baby Jesus learning to walk, needing to wear a bib, and even needing a diaper change from time to time. The idea that the God of the universe would subject Himself to the limits, awkwardness, and temptations of humanity, further demonstrates His great love for us.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

Luke 2:7

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Luke 2:52

Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.

John 4:6

Jesus wept.

John 11:35

After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.

John 19:28

Next time we will consider the purpose of Jesus’s birth.

Purple or Scarlet?

November 27, 2017 at 3:32 pm | Posted in John, Q&A | 5 Comments
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Question: John 19:2 and Mark 15:17 say that the robe which the soldiers put on Jesus shortly before His Crucifixion was purple. However, Matthew 27:28 says that the robe was scarlet. Which one is true?

Answer: “Purple” and “scarlet” and sometimes “crimson” are variations of the same color when used to describe fabrics in antiquity. Back then, garments were hand-dyed and hand-washed, often exposed to harsh scrubbing and extreme weather, so they faded much more easily than our garments today. The Holy Spirit caused different Gospel writers to describe the robe that the soldiers put on Jesus as both purple and scarlet, because, from Pilate’s and the Romans’ point of view, it was just a faded old garment used to mock Him, but, from our point of view, the royalty symbolized by the color purple was suitable to the King of the Universe, God Almighty, which is Who Jesus was.

The Labor of Rest

July 7, 2015 at 1:56 pm | Posted in Hebrews | 5 Comments
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Lord, as we study and discuss your Word, help us to draw near to You. Help us to see truth, and help us to resolve to do right. Lead us, Father, away from temptation, and deliver us from evil. In the Name of Christ Jesus I pray. Amen.

Hebrews Chapter 4 reveals the second of the five admonitions (encouragements mixed with warnings). The first one was: Don’t let doctrine slip away from you – don’t drift. The second one is: Don’t be suspicious of God’s promises. In other words, don’t doubt or disbelieve His Word.

We show or prove our belief by submitting – by showing our fear – not fear of God’s wrath, but fear of chastening. It’s like when an obedient dog rolls over on command. It’s part ritual, but there’s also a real desire to please, and to avoid displeasing, his master.

Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.

Hebrews 4:1

The “therefore” in that verse reflects back to the previous chapter:

So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

Hebrews 3:19

If there were some who could not enter in to their rest because of unbelief, doesn’t it stand to reason that we don’t want to copy their mistake? Suspicion concerning God’s promises will lead to unbelief, and will keep a believer from entering in to his rest. I’m not talking about our Heavenly rest; I’m talking about a confident realization of our peace with God that allows us to draw near to Him.

The opposite of letting slip is holding fast (holding tight). Drawing near to God requires total attention – fixation. We’re not going to draw near to God by accidentally backing into Him, or bumping into Him. That’s one of the reasons why I don’t like that expression, “Let go and let God.” It sounds good. It’s cute phonetically. It even has an okay-ish application to it, in the sense that holding onto fears and worries and bitterness that I can’t control would not be good, so I need to “give them to God.” Also, holding onto sin is certainly not good; I need to call on the Lord to “deliver” me from sin. But I must not “let go” of my focus on God – of my zealous desire to please Him. This does not mean that I’m supposed to worry that I can never please Him, or that He will kick me out of His family if I fail. It means that, if I’m not sincerely trying, my knowledge of His righteousness and my fear of Him reminds me that He will chasten me in love.

Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

Hebrews 4:11

“Laboring to rest” sounds contradictory, but the Holy Spirit resolves the tension by showing us how to do it:

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

The Bible is alive, and it is the Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17). It judges our hearts as we submit to its judgment. Forced judgment is not for the children of God; it’s for the enemies of God. God’s righteous wrath is not for those who are drawing near with a pure heart; it is for those who are far away and who are attacking Him from the outskirts, or who are running away from Him because they despise Him.

For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

Hebrews 4:10

The reason it is possible for us to be free – no, more than just free – even welcomed and beckoned – and to come let the Word of God judge our hearts, is because Christ is superior to Moses and the other prophets in that He finished His work.

When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

John 19:30

Christ did not die with His work unfinished. He died to pay the sin debt once for all. That’s why many true Christians have such a problem with people trying to add something to salvation: it minimizes or denigrates the work and victory of Christ on the Cross.

Catechism Question 18

February 26, 2015 at 1:05 pm | Posted in Children's Bible Catechism, Resurrection | 9 Comments
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Question 17: How did Jesus die?
Answer: He was crucified.
Prove it.

John 19:18

Question 18: What happened to Jesus after He died?
Answer: He was buried and then rose again on the third day.
Prove it.

Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly;

Acts 10:40

A child who is familiar with CPR or some kind of medical resuscitation, or who perhaps has heard of someone in a coma making a recovery, may question the validity of Jesus’s death. In other words, “Did He really die?”

This is easily resolved from the Scriptures. Chapters 5-8 of the Book of Romans, as well as Chapter 14, stress the reality of Christ’s death emphatically.

Furthermore, the Gospel accounts tell us plainly that Jesus willingly laid down his life and truly died.

A child might also ask, “How did He come back to life?” The simplest answer to this is that God the Father raised up Christ (God the Son) by His power, but this is probably a good place to explain that Jesus died only as touching His humanity. He did not die as touching His Deity, for this would be an impossibility, because God has the immutable power of self-existence, and is eternal.

Other verses to consider:

And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

I Corinthians 15:4

Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.

Romans 6:9

Catechism Question 17

February 9, 2015 at 4:28 pm | Posted in Children's Bible Catechism, John | 6 Comments
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Question 17: How did Jesus die?
Answer: He was crucified.
Prove it.

Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.

John 19:18

Despite the horror, humiliation, and hurtfulness of death on a cross, there can be no denying that it was precisely the type of death ordained by God the Father to be experienced by God the Son. Why did He choose this type of death?

I do not know if we can answer that question with 100% certainty. Traditionally, I have heard it explained that this was the cruelest, most painful death possible, and that the physical suffering of Christ had to be immense beyond measure in order to pay the outrageous sin debt that was owed by His people. I do not want to minimize or denigrate the physical suffering of Christ on the Cross. There can be no doubt it was horrific. However, I have read of the deaths of many of the martyrs, and – physically speaking – there may be more torturous, drawn-out, and even intensely painful ways to die.

I think, first of all, as we explain the suffering of Christ to our children, we would do better to explain it in terms of the transaction of bearing the weight of sin and its guilt by the perfect sinless Savior, and experiencing the indescribable wrath of God poured out against sin. There is a sense in which this transaction took place in the eternal realm between God the Father and Christ the Son, and was a unique type of painfully propitiatory sacrifice which our finite brains can not come close to fathoming.

Second, I also think we need to teach our kids the significance of death by hanging on a tree-like Cross as a picture of the curse of sin being dealt with, and as a fulfillment of prophecy by which God made known the commingling of His forgiveness and His justice. The Cross of Christ had been illustrated in the Old Testament, and was now being orchestrated to prove God’s love and truth.

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

I Peter 2:24

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

John 3:14

Catechism Question 16

January 26, 2015 at 1:56 pm | Posted in Children's Bible Catechism, Isaiah | 9 Comments
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Question 15: What did Jesus do while He was here on earth?
Answer: He lived a perfect, sinless life.
Prove it.
John 8:29

Question 16: How was Jesus treated here on earth?
Answer: He was hated, rejected, and falsely accused.
Prove it.

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Isaiah 53:3

Jesus of Nazareth, the most kind, loving, compassionate person Who ever walked the face of the earth, was held, at least part of the time, by at least a certain segment of the populace, in varying levels of esteem. There were even those who loved Him and honored Him to a degree. Some even worshiped and adored and learned from His teaching. Yet the overall tenor of His sojourn through this world was scorn, ridicule, abuse, and persecution. Why?

Because He was the light Who came into the world to expose the evil of human beings who loved their sin and did not want it exposed. Because He divided the true from the false, and division is seldom comfortable. Because Satan was motivating his followers to attack and oppose Christ’s ministry and mission. Because He challenged the status quo of false religion and the greed and self-righteousness of the religious leaders and system of that day.

Other verses to consider:

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5

But they cried out, Away with [him], away with [him], crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.

John 19:15

Made a Scapegoat

August 24, 2011 at 9:43 am | Posted in Common Expressions | 6 Comments
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The term “scapegoat” has come to mean a person who takes the blame as a sacrifice for someone else who is actually at fault. For example, imagine that a government entity is collecting taxes for the improvement of roads, but the funds are actually being spent on thousands of dollars’ worth of Community Coffee. When the matter comes to light, the government officer responsible will often fire someone in accounting who was only following orders and was not truly responsible for the misuse of the funds. The reason for this injustice would be to appease the public and create the impression that the “higher-ups” were not really at fault for the corruption. In that example, the fired person is said to be the “scapegoat.”

Another example is when a football team is predicted to go 12-4 in the preseason polls, but actually finishes 5-11. The owner and the general manager and the head coach will get together and decide to fire the special teams coach. This is supposed to satisfy the ticket-buying fans that real changes are being made for next year. In that scenario the special teams coach is the “scapegoat.”

“Scapegoat” is a term that is slowly being replaced these days by the ubiquitous phrase, “thrown under the bus.” To “throw someone under the bus” has a similar connotation in that the person being “thrown under the bus” is someone who is being betrayed by a lack of loyalty on the part of his former colleagues or employer. A “scapegoat,” in popular usage, is usually someone who doesn’t deserve the blame he is getting. Whereas, the person “thrown under the bus” may actually have done something worthy of blame.

I prefer the term “scapegoat” because it is found in the Bible.

And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the LORD’S lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering. But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.

Leviticus 16:7-10

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/db/Webb_Sending_Out_the_Scapegoat.jpg

The laws of the “holy place” were given to Moses by the Lord after the death of Aaron’s sons. God told Moses to tell Aaron that this is how God wants the sacrifices done. The occasion described in these Verses is known as the Day of Atonement.

There is much disagreement among Bible scholars as to what the two goats represent. The lot for the Lord fell upon the goat which became the sin offering. The other goat was let go to escape in the wilderness after Aaron had laid his hands on it and confessed all the sins of the children of Israel on its head. Some Bible teachers think that the sin-offering goat represents Christ. Some think that the scapegoat represents Christ. Others say that the scapegoat represents Satan. Some say that the word for “escaped goat” or “goat removed” is “Azazel” who was a pagan god or symbol. Still others think that both goats represent Christ.

And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness:

Levitcus 16:21, emphasis added

Notice that the scapegoat bore the iniquities of the people.

He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

Isaiah 53:11, emphasis added

The scapegoat was not allowed to wander about until he found his way into the wilderness. He was “sent” away by the hand of a fit man.

Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away.

John 19:16, emphasis added

And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.

Leviticus 16:22

The scapegoat symbolically took away the sins of the people.

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

John 1:29, emphasis added

There is a popular praise chorus which says about Jesus:
Living, He loved me;
Dying, He saved me;
Buried, He carried my sin far away;
Rising, He justified freely forever;
Some day He’s coming back – oh glorious day!

Leviticus 16:21 says that the priest was to confess over the goat’s head all their iniquities and all their transgressions and all their sins.

And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

I John 2:2

I believe that the scapegoat was a symbol or a foreshadowing of the Lord Jesus Christ. I could be wrong, but what I do know for sure is that my sin has been carried away by Jesus. He has paid for it in full.

If someone tells you they’re tired of being the scapegoat, or if you ever find yourself in the position of being a scapegoat, remember the original scapegoat. The only way to be a true “escaped” goat – to escape the price that has to be paid for sin – is to put our faith and trust in the only One Who could pay – and has paid – the price for sin – the only One Who was sinless and perfect enough to carry our sin away.

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