Friday, October 16, 2015

at the door to the cross

The Word for today:
John 1:19-34
mark this: John 1:29 --
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
John 1:29 is the crucial point at which major themes of the Old Testament reach their fulfillment. Each of these themes pointed to the Messiah who would come to deliver the people. In this verse, John the Baptist ecstatically exclaims, "Look! He's here!"
The prophet in the Old Testament served two major functions:
He pronounced judgment on the people's sins.
He pointed to a chosen servant of God who would deliver the people.
The prophets can be confusing, because in the very same breath they seem to speak of God's judgment and His mercy. How can that be? Only the cross--where God Himself took the judgment for sin in order to forgive the people--could explain these seemingly contradictory themes of the prophets.
The sacrificial system--the shedding of the blood of another to atone for the sins of the people--is the very heart of the Mosaic system, the system of law God described to Moses, as recorded in the first five books of the Bible.
The priest in the Old Testament must be from the tribe of Levi. He inspected the lambs which each family brought to the Temple to be sacrificed. He literally stood at the door and blocked the entrance of any unqualified lamb. It had to be flawless, or it was not a worthy sacrifice.
Faith in the Old Testament is the basis of relationship with God. Abraham was told to bring his son Isaac to be sacrificed on Mount Moriah--the very ridge where the temple and the cross would later stand. Isaac, looking around as he trudged up the hill, carrying the wood to be used for the burnt offering, asked the question which would reverberate all the way to the cross:
"Father, behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?"
Abraham answered with faith--a trust in God, which was the only possible way out:
"My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering." (1)
So we come all the way through the Old Testament, all the way to John 1:29:
We hear the great prophet, John the Baptist, denouncing the people's sins. Baptizing with water, he told them of One to come, who would baptize them with the Holy Spirit.
We hear the voice of a priest: not only was John a prophet, but as a member of the tribe of Levi, he was priest as well. He had known Jesus since before both of them were born! (2) He had watched Jesus grow up.
Now, 30 years later, this prophet with no tolerance for sin; this priest with the highest standards of purity, stood at the door between the people and the altar of sacrifice. He inspected the offering--the Lamb which God had provided--and he pronounced it spotless, without blemish, qualified to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
The grand and sweeping themes of the Old Testament converge in this verse. Don't just mark it in your Bible. Treasure this one in your heart. You're at the door to the cross.
(1) Genesis 22:7-8; (2) Luke 1:44

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