We have been talking about sacrifices, about animal sacrifices in particular. About how God was the first one to sacrifice an animal - the one He slaughtered in the garden to cover our shame. But then, He rejects Cain's offering of an animal, only to go on and command His people to bring Him animal sacrifices.
As we have said all along, it's...complicated.
Yesterday, we looked at a handful of contexts for the animal sacrifice - at remembrance, obedience, atonement, righteousness, thankfulness, etc.
Believe it or not, there are a great many Christians who believe none of this matters. We aren't a people offering sacrifices any more, at least not animal sacrifices, so all of this is outdated. All of it is swallowed up in what we call the "old covenant." We've moved on from this. We don't need it any more.
We have Jesus.
But here's the thing, we can't understand Jesus unless we understand animal sacrifice. Jesus - the Lamb of God - is every single one of these sacrifices that we're talking about.
He is the sacrifice that covers our shame.
He is the sacrifice that reminds us of what God has done.
He is the sacrifice that draws out our thankful heart.
He is the sacrifice of obedience.
He is the sacrifice of atonement.
He is the sacrifice of righteousness.
Everything we've learned about animal sacrifice through the story of the Scriptures, Jesus is. And unless we have in our minds and our hearts a framework for understanding what the animal sacrifice was, we cannot - hear me, cannot - understand the Lamb of God. Period.
And if we don't understand the fullness, the depth of Jesus Christ hanging on the Cross, then we, like Cain, bring a lesser offering. We shrink Him. We pick the parts of Him we think are worthy, and we try to worship just around that...and it doesn't work. God rejects that.
God says, "Here it is. Here He is. The perfect sacrifice. He's everything I've been trying to get at for thousands of years, from the very first moment that I told you I would take care of you. When I skinned that animal in the Garden to cover your shame, I was thinking of this. I was thinking of Him."
So here we are.
And just look at the way that Love covers us now.