February 20, 2015

Emotional downs and ups

Leviticus 9–11
John 7:53–8:11
Song of Solomon 6:6–10

Reading through God’s law for sacrificial and other offerings brings sober thoughts. Imagine the difficulties involved with keeping them, even just one of them such as: “And if anyone touches an unclean thing, whether human uncleanness or an unclean beast or any unclean detestable creature, and then eats some flesh from the sacrifice of the Lord’s peace offerings, that person shall be cut off from his people.” (Leviticus 7:21)

Unclean things? Unclean animals? Unclean creatures? Knowing what fits these categories would be a challenge. Being cut off from the rest of God’s people for touching anything unclean and then eating from a peace offering would be humiliating and even terrifying. How complex were these laws!

Nevertheless, it is good to read them. I am joyful that Jesus is my “law-keeper.” No longer do His people need to practice the rituals of shedding the blood of animals to cover each sin. Jesus has done it for us. He protects us, atones for us, for every mistake, every sin. At the same time, I’m glad to read the last couple of verses: “This is the law of the burnt offering, of the grain offering, of the sin offering, of the guilt offering, of the ordination offering, and of the peace offering, which the Lord commanded Moses on Mount Sinai, on the day that he commanded the people of Israel to bring their offerings to the Lord, in the wilderness of Sinai.” (Leviticus 7:37–38)

The New Testament reading again takes me to a stressful place. Jesus claimed to be the source of life. This provoked the Pharisees and they became angrier than ever. Their authority was slipping so they began to judge Jesus without a proper trial. They intimidated Nicodemus, harshly rebuked the captains, and cursed the people.

The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?” The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this man!” The Pharisees answered them, “Have you also been deceived? Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.” Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” They replied, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.” (John 7:45–52)

I know that Jesus is on the way to the cross. This is His mission, the reason He came. Like the sacrifices in the wilderness, this would be a gory and horrible scene, but He set His face like flint and determined to love us to the very end. Sobering thoughts indeed.

Then I read from Solomon’s love story. The bride is describing her lover: “My beloved has gone down to his garden to the beds of spices, to pasture his flock in the gardens and to gather lilies.” (Song of Solomon 6:2)

This prefigures Jesus, not in conflict, not in the last hours of life, but delightfully taking care of His people. Just imagining the scene gives joy to my heart and a smile to my face. I am my Beloved’s and He is mine. One day I will share that ideal garden with Him!

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