Tuesday, January 28, 2014

"Jesus Christ, and him crucified"

Currently, I am re-reading the Book of Leviticus. Like the entirety of sacred Scripture, re-reading it, in a sense, is like reading it for the first time. I have also been reading a very well-written and simple book by David Murray, Jesus on Every Page: 10 Simple Ways to Seek and Find Christ in the Old Testament. It is a book I highly recommend. Even as someone long accustomed to seeking and finding Jesus in the Hebrew Scriptures, which, according Jesus Himself, are nothing but a testament of Him (see Luke 24:13-35, especially verses 25-27: "And he said to them, 'Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?' Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures"), I am enjoying Murray's insight greatly.

Despite knowing that, second only to my Friday traditio, my posts directly about the Scriptures are far and away the least popular, as with my Friday offerings, in which I make a feeble attempt to relate faith, at least my faith, to culture, I feel compelled to go on writing about the Scriptures from time-to-time regardless.

I was relieved to re-discover that I would not be considered "unclean": "When a man loses the hair of his head, he is simply bald on the crown and not unclean. So too, if he loses the hair on the front of his head, he is simply bald on the forehead and not unclean" (Lev 13:40-41).

I was struck reading this evening about the requirement for the Israelites to bring all their sacrifices to the Tabernacle once it was built, instead of offering sacrifices of oxen, sheep, and goats in the open field, with the strict warning to offer sacrifices only to the God of Israel, the one God, holy and true (Lev 17:1-7). Arising from these prescriptions was the prohibition against drinking or eating blood: "As for anyone, whether of the house of Israel or of the aliens residing among them, who consumes any blood, I will set myself against that individual and will cut that person off from among the people, since the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement on the altar for yourselves, because it is the blood as life that makes atonement" (Lev 17:10-11- emboldening and italicizing emphasis mine).

The phrase "because it is the blood as life that makes atonement" stood out to me in bold relief. I realize this is hardly an original or unique insight. But it helped me to make a more direct connection between these sacrifices, which were several and varied, and the one, efficacious, sacrifice made by the Lord on the Cross.

Coming after an exposition of the Day of Atonement as set forth in the sixteenth chapter of Leviticus, the author of the New Testatment book, Letter to the Hebrews, wrote:
Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of them, it can never make perfect those who come to worship by the same sacrifices that they offer continually each year. Otherwise, would not the sacrifices have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, once cleansed, would no longer have had any consciousness of sins? But in those sacrifices there is only a yearly remembrance of sins, for it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats take away sins (Heb 10:1-4)
I never grow too sophisticated, or learned, to be reminded of what St. Paul wrote to remind the Corinthian Christians, namely the power and simplicity of what the Father did for us by sacrificing His only begotten Son: "When I came to you, brothers, proclaiming the mystery of God, I did not come with sublimity of words or of wisdom. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified" (1 Cor 2:1-2).

Keeping it simple is what 2014 is all about for me. Thank you, Jesus.

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