The Old Testament sacrificial system included several types of sacrifices, mostly for the sins of God’s people. The burnt offering was one of those.
“If (the sinner’s) offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish. He shall bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the Lord. He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. (Leviticus 1:3–4)
Atonement was never free. Something or someone had to pay the penalty for sin. Even though this must have taken thousands of animals from their herds each year, I’m certain that the Israelites would rather lose a significant portion of their herd than pay the price of sin with their own lives. Actually, had that been the case, it would not take long to eradicate the entire nation.
I’ve tried to imagine what these sacrifices and offerings looked like but cannot. They didn’t have cameras to take pictures and the artwork is always from much later imaginations and generations. However, I can visualize enough to realize it was truly awful to watch.
Today’s New Testament reading comes at a time when the sacrificial system was about to end. The people didn’t know it because Jesus was still alive. Very few even suspected what was about to happen, but John the Baptist called Him “the Lamb of God.” He understood, yet even the disciples didn’t, at least not yet. Most people had no idea who He was.
The Jews were looking for him at the feast, and saying, “Where is he?” And there was much muttering about him among the people. While some said, “He is a good man,” others said, “No, he is leading the people astray.” (John 7:11–12)
The confusion over the identity of Jesus continued. At the cross, when the centurion and those who were with him keeping watch over Jesus saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:54) But the religious leaders continued to deny Him.
The debate over Jesus continues today. Some say He was a prophet or a teacher, but the Bible and Jesus Himself say that He is God in human flesh.
I find the juxtaposition of these verses from the OT and the NT odd. It is odd that the Jews believed their sins could be atoned for by the blood of a male animal without blemish, but when a man who never sinned offered Himself for their sin, they rejected Him and His sacrifice.
I am very glad for God’s grace and the gift of faith to believe in Jesus, and grateful that “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine . . . .”(Song of Solomon 6:3)