Thursday, February 9, 2012

Looking for Jesus in Leviticus: “alone”

The Word for today:
Leviticus 18

In our current series of articles, which we’ve called “Looking for Jesus in Leviticus,” we’ve seen pictures and prophecies and fore-shadows and symbols and types and analogies of Jesus.

So far we’ve seen Jesus in the offerings, in the fire, in the grain, in the substitute, in the laying on of hands, in the leprosy, in the sin, in the scapegoat. And we’re just getting started. In the next week or so, we will look for Jesus—and find him—in the garments, in the feasts, in the Sabbath, in the Jubilee, in the blood, and in the birds (if we’ve got the time).

But there’s one word, “alone” —which is illustrated in Leviticus 16, spelled out in Hebrews 9:7 -- that is often overlooked, even though it says as much about Jesus as any of the pictures which we previously mentioned:
Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services;
But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people's sins committed in ignorance.  (Hebrews 9:6-7)
Most of you know the context of the passage—that on the Day of Atonement, the Holiest Day of the Year, only one person, out of all the people, went into the Holiest Place to offer the blood of the sacrifice. Surely we see Jesus, the lone Lamb and the High Priest, in this prophetic context.

But what about the word alone, alone? When taken out of its spiritually prophetic context, is it still personally prophetic of Jesus?

Was he unique, and thereby misunderstood? Certainly:

When Jesus returned to the house where he was staying, the crowds began to gather again, and soon he and his disciples couldn't even find time to eat.
When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him home with them. "He's out of his mind," they said.
(Mark 3:20-21)

When he said these things, the people were again divided in their opinions about him.
Some of them said, "He has a demon, or he's crazy. Why listen to a man like that?"
(John 10:19-20)

Was he sometimes lonely? I think so:
At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him.
Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked,  "Are you going to leave, too?"
  (John 6:66-67)

Was he forsaken? I know so:
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Psalm 22:1)

In the book of Hebrews—the reality, of which Leviticus is just the shadow—we read a statement that we should never forget about the Son of Man:
Our High Priest is not one who cannot feel sympathy for our weaknesses. On the contrary, we have a High Priest who was tempted in every way that we are, but did not sin.
Let us have confidence, then, and approach God's throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it.  (Hebrews 4:15-16)
When we talk (as we do) so learnedly and so profoundly about our high priest (which he is) who became one of us (which he did) in order to offer himself (which he did) and intercede for us (which he is doing right now), let’s not forget that when he took upon himself our frail covering (our flesh), he took within himself our frail inner lives, as well.

Never forget that Jesus is all the big-deal things that “alone” implies: unique, unparalleled, peerless, incomparable.

But while we’re never forgetting all of that, let’s remember that “alone” also means he knew — like most of us some of the time, like some of us most of the time — what it’s like to feel alone.


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