One Year Bible - March 31
Scriptures to read:
I grew up in a Lutheran church where we had certain routine practices. We recited the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed, and had other regular readings and liturgy. Church membership required passing a catechism test – which I had to take twice! As a young teen I served as an acolyte, assisting the pastor during church services. I am very thankful for my introduction to faith, the routines, and for the solid foundation that I learned. Yet for any formality that included, it pales in significance when compared to Old Testament Jewish life.
The first reading today from the Book of Numbers is a long section on a schedule of sacrifices required of God’s people (primarily for atonement) to eliminate the gap between a holy God and flawed people. Sacrifices were required daily, both morning and evening, weekly on the Sabbath, monthly (at the beginning of each month), seasonally at Passover, the Festival of Weeks (later Pentecost), the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles. There were sacrifices of lambs, bulls, goats, and grain, all the best that the Jewish people could provide. These numerous ongoing rituals were a constant reminder of the gap between God’s holiness and their human experience, and the sacrifices were costly. And in all of this, not any one sacrifice was permanent; yet another one was always required the next morning.
When John the Baptist first saw Jesus at the beginning of His ministry, John said “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). In John’s first recorded words about Jesus, he did not recognize Him as a great teacher, healer, or leader, but as the lamb offered by God Himself. As Lamb of God, Jesus was (and is) the one sacrifice that would always be enough, the sacrifice provided by the Father Himself. And in that one sacrifice, God condemned sin itself.
In our society, Easter is often seen as a time of new life and a fresh start. As Christians we end Holy Week celebrating Jesus’ resurrection and the offer of eternal life in Him. But that triumphant conclusion was preceded by false accusations, humiliation, beating, public trial and conviction, nails and blood, suffering and one painful sacrificial death. And that God ordained sacrificial death is the one that is sufficient for you today and every tomorrow.
Memory Verse: You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected. - Matthew 24: 44
Prayer: Father, thank you for giving your Son to be sacrificed on my behalf, to atone for all my sins. By your Spirit lead me to lay my life down and to follow You alone.