26.5 John – Scapegoat

In Leviticus 16, the Day of Atonement is outlined.  As you might recall, this is the one day of the year, Yom Kippur, that the high priest alone goes behind the curtain in the temple and enters the holy of holies.  This is the day when an atonement is made for the entire nation, all of God’s children.

In past lessons we have discussed how Jesus is the Lamb of God, the sacrificial lamb as foreshadowed in the Passover, magnified by the fact that he dies at Passover, at the hour the lamb would be killed.

But what about the goats in Lev 16.  Two goats are selected.  One is sacrificed as an offering to the Lord.  The other is the scapegoat.  The scapegoat is taken out of the city.  The high priest lays his hands on the scapegoat, transferring all the sins of the people onto the goat.  It is then released, alive, into the wilderness.

Not only do all past events point to Christ, but this one, in particular, is relevant because of what we read about happening at Jesus’ death in Mark 15:38, where the curtain of the temple is torn in two from top to bottom.  This is the curtain that separated the holy of holies, the place that could only be approached on the Day of Atonement, the day of the scapegoat.

But there are 2 goats and only one Jesus, right?  Yes, but, and here is where it gets kind of deep, Jesus is both.  Jesus is fully man and fully God.  Jesus, the man, is sacrificed and killed, as an offering to the Lord.  Now, keep in mind, an offering is like a gift.  The slain animal now belongs to God, like any gift given to someone else.  It no longer belongs to itself or to any man (more on this in a moment).  Jesus, spirit of God, is also the second goat, the scapegoat.  The one taken outside the city.  The one whom all sin is transferred to, ALL SIN!  The one that cannot be killed but instead is released into the wilderness.  How did John word it?  “With that, he (Jesus) bowed his head and gave up his spirit”.  His spirit went, alive, because the spirit of God cannot die, into the grave, for 3 days.

Now, we haven’t gotten there yet in our reading, but after 3 days the really amazing thing happens.  After 3 days the spirit of Jesus returns and claims the body of Jesus.  Now, keep in mind, that body no longer belongs to any man, it was a gift to God.  For Jesus to claim that body once again is a testament that He is God.  He took our sins, carried them into the wilderness, left them in the grave, returned and accepted the sacrifice of his own body delivering it, ultimately, into heaven.

My Answers:

He bowed his head and gave up his spirit – it was finished and/when He died.
by bowing his head and giving up his spirit

curtain torn in two from top to bottom

The payment for sin has been paid in full

26.4 John – Into Home

I absolutely see and get that Jesus honored both his Father and his mother from the cross.  The fact that He was on the cross was to honor His Father in Heaven, that is why He drank this cup.  And, by speaking from that cross to charge John becoming a son to Mary, His mother, He cared for and honored his mother.

But, I think there is also a gift in this for John and for us.

John 19:26-27 record this brief exchange and the result of it.  It says, “He (Jesus) said to her (Mary), “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple (John), “Here is your mother.”  From that time on, the disciple (John) took her into his home.”

Let’s think about that.  John had a mother.  Tradition holds that her name was Salome.  She was married to Zebedee and had, at least, 2 sons, James and John, both apostles of Jesus (the sons of thunder).  We know she too was a follower of Jesus and a bold woman who loved her sons (she asked Jesus to grant them a special place in his kingdom sitting at his right and left).  Tradition also holds that was Mary’s relative (sister/cousin) and the one referred to as being at the cross (John 19:25) along with his mother, his mother’s sister (Salome), Mary the wife of Clopas and Mary Magdalene.

But when Jesus gives John a calling, a mission, an instruction, he goes all in.  Notice that it does not say he checking in on Mary periodically, or that he sent her a check every month, or that he helped organize her affairs with her.  Instead, it says, “from that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”

What a blessing that must have been to John.  To live with the mother of our Lord.  To daily share a house with this woman who had been blessed above all women to be touched by the Holy Spirit and give birth to (and raise) our savior.  What a blessing to have such a clear calling and pronouncement from the Lord, a mission, a direction.

But what about us?  How do we approach the work that God gives us to do?  Do we phone it in?  Do we keep it at a distance, separating church from work or church from home?  Do we go serve in a food kitchen and call it good?  Or, do we bring it home?  Do we embrace it and the people God gives us to shepherd and make them part of our family?  We do find joy in being with them, sharing life and love of our Lord together?

My Answers:

John focused exclusively on what Jesus said and the instruction he provided to Mary and John.  The others painted the bigger picture.  John was the zoom lens of Jesus’ heart

Cared for his mother (and John), took on suffering even though He was King and Holy

Altruism is one of the greatest witnesses because it is contrrary to the “survival of the fittest” mindset

26.3 John – Job

All of the stories of the bible point, either directly or indirectly, to Jesus.  In today’s lesson on Jesus being tortured, suffering and being stripped and hung on the cross, we see some of these.  The questions and the notes demonstrate the parallels between Adam and Eve’s need to be clothed to hide from God after sin entered the world and how Jesus was now stripped bare with nothing hidden from God or man.  But the other story that came to mind for me was Job.

Job 1 starts with an interesting and unique story.  The angels appear at the throne of the Lord and accompanying them is Satan.  Satan indicates that he has been “roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it” (the image of the prowling lion comes to mind in his words).  The Lord said to him, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him.”  Job is judged by the Lord to be “blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil”.  Satan replies that this is not surprising, hasn’t God “put a hedge around him?”  But, Satan states, if you “stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, he will surely curse you to your face?”  The Lord then give Satan permission over Job, everything he has is in Satan’s power, except, Satan is excluded from “laying a finger” on him.

We know the story, Satan takes his best shot, not only taking all earthly things from him, but even sending him false counselors who encourage him to deny and curse God.  But Job persists.

This comes to mind because of the question, why did Jesus have to suffer?  The payment for sin is death, right?  It doesn’t say it is suffering and death.  God did not say to Adam and Eve, if you eat of this fruit you will suffer physically and then die, He just told them they would die.  Jesus’ death is the payment for sin.  So why did He have to suffer?  Why did God allow it?

I think we see these answers in Job.  Jesus could be described exactly as Job was.  There is no one else like him.  There never was and never will be until He comes again.  He is blameless and upright.  He is a man.  He fears (and loves) God and shuns evil.  He was tempted by Satan in the wilderness after fasting, but did not give in to sin and instead turned repeatedly to scripture.

But, where God held limits on how Satan could torment Job, He removed all the stops with Jesus.  Satan could not physically harm Job, not “lay a hand on him.”  But with Jesus, He was beaten, mocked, spit on, cursed, stripped, paraded, taunted, betrayed.  And, yet, just as the foreshadowing of Job prophesied, He remained completely without sin.

The message to us in Christ’s suffering is the fullness of His love and commitment to God.  It is probably true that we all have our breaking point, where, with enough pain and torture we become willing to lie to do anything to make it stop.  We hate that part of ourselves, but recognize it is there.  And, no one would blame us or hold it against us when we break.  We are only human.  But, even in that, even at His breaking point, Jesus stayed completely without sin.

This is critically important because the payment for sin is death.  If Jesus, fully man, had sinned, any sin, even sinful thoughts, then his death would be the payment for his sin.  But by remaining fully without sin, despite facing every trial that ever faces man, his death was not payment for his sin, but a substitutionary payment for my sin and yours.  To the beginning to the end of his life as a man, Jesus remained “blameless and  upright.”

My Answers:

He was stripped and left naked on the cross

clothing covered our recognition of sin to hide from God, filthy rags, the things we “acquire” have no meaning

He not only was willing to step down from heaven, he gave up everything for us.  We stripped Him, but He gives us robes to wear to our wedding with him


26.2 John – Signs of the Truth

Before Jesus was born a sign appeared in the heavens, a star.  Wise men from other lands, non-Hebrews, men referred to as “Magi”, saw this sign and the truth of its meaning was revealed to them.  They travelled from afar and, as recorded in Matthew 2, “during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.””

At Jesus death a sign was placed above Him.  It was a sign written in three languages, plain for all to see and understand.  A leader, a wise man given the responsibility of being a judge, Pilate, wrote the sign which read, “The King of the Jews”.

How interesting that at both ends of Jesus’ life on Earth, God sent outsiders, non-Jews, to proclaim the message of His Son, the Messiah, the King.  It is interesting as well to see the Jews response.  In Matthew 2, we read that “when King Herod heard this (question from the Magi) he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.”  In John 19 we read that the chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.” Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.””

In Luke 4 and Mark 6, we read Jesus’ words that “no prophet is accepted in his own hometown.”

But the Jews, even the high priests, those who should have known the best, did not listen, even to outsiders.  Instead they wanted to substitute the signs of the truth with lies.  From the beginning to the end they were greatly disturbed.  What an interesting reaction by people who claimed to seek and desire the fulfillment of God’s word to, in turn, reject it when it happens and instead of rejoicing be disturbed by it.  Instead of seeing the truth, they instead sought to re-write it into a lie.  Jesus never claimed to be the King of the Jews, even though He was (and is).  He did not ever attempt to force His sovereignty onto others, but instead offered a home.

But don’t we sometimes do the same thing as the Jews.  We pray for God to intervene, to keep us safe, to protect our families, to bless our churches.  And when He does, we ignore it and write it off as luck or circumstance or good fortune.  When we have miracles occur in our lives, we are often the first to say, “well, I don’t want to claim that I heard God…”  or “I don’t want to say that this for sure was God…”.  When we doubt, are we hedging?  When we doubt God’s hand, are we, even if just in our minds, substituting a lie for the truth?

First comes faith, then comes certainty.  If it was the other way around, it would not be faith.  It is not faith to trust in the laws of nature, to “believe” in gravity or that fire will burn.  Hebrews 11:1 says “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”  Faith is the bridge from hope to confidence and from blindness to assurance.  The Jews chose to not accept faith.  The signs were there, and despite having hope, they were blinded by their own lies that they could not see what was written, “The King of the Jews,” was the truth.

My Answers:

Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews, written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek, they wanted it to say that he claimed to be king of the Jews

PS: King of all Nations
Matt: Magi saw prediction of the king of the Jews, ruler who will shepherd Israel
J4: Jesus is the Savior of the World
J6: The bread is my flesh which I give for the life of the world
J11: Caiaphas’ word: better for Jesus to die, not just for nation but all scattered children
Rev: With you blood you purchased for God persons of every tribe, language, people, nation

The charge of our legal indebtedness