One of my favorite books of the Bible is Leviticus. The following two paragraphs are from Leviticus 16 which is is about the Day of Atonement:
7 Then he must take the two male goats and present them to the Lord at the entrance of the Tabernacle. 8 He is to cast sacred lots to determine which goat will be reserved as an offering to the Lord and which will carry the sins of the people to the wilderness of Azazel. 9 Aaron will then present as a sin offering the goat chosen by lot for the Lord. 10 The other goat, the scapegoat chosen by lot to be sent away, will be kept alive, standing before the Lord. When it is sent away to Azazel in the wilderness, the people will be purified and made right with the Lord.
20 “When Aaron has finished purifying the Most Holy Place and the Tabernacle and the altar, he must present the live goat. 21 He will lay both of his hands on the goat’s head and confess over it all the wickedness, rebellion, and sins of the people of Israel. In this way, he will transfer the people’s sins to the head of the goat. Then a man specially chosen for the task will drive the goat into the wilderness. 22 As the goat goes into the wilderness, it will carry all the people’s sins upon itself into a desolate land.
The Day of Atonement was the day when the sins of God's people would be forgiven for the next year. A goat was chosen by chance to be the carrier of all of those sins - taking them away from the people into the land of nothing, the desert.
Today is Good Friday.
Today is a remembrance of the final necessary Day of Atonement.
Today is the day when Jesus became my scapegoat.
It wasn't by the roll of the dice, He wasn't chosen by a lottery in heaven. It wasn't a choice between Jesus and one of the angels. The Father chose to provide His Son. And Jesus willingly became the goat.
That's the deep thing for me. It would be one thing if I had already committed all of my sins. You know, I was in the courtroom, the evidence was proven that I had done something, a verdict was given, and Jesus says - "I'll take the fall." But when He died on the cross - I hadn't even done anything yet!
"You know Jesus, there's millions upon millions of people who haven't even been born yet - and you'll be dying for all their mess ups too. You'll be their scapegoat too."
And He did it. He WILLINGLY did it.
Back in the Old Testament times when the Day of Atonement was happening, it was probably a quiet, somber moment as that goat walked into the desert. A mixed moment of regret as they were seeing themselves represented in that goat, but also joy as it walked away into the desert - carrying their evils away with it. It's walking away with their junk made it possible for them to stand before God in peace.
Today is should be just like that as well.
I think of what Jesus did. And all of my mess - the details which define my mess, the things people can point to and things I'm glad people don't know, the things which in essence show me to be an evil, selfish person - all of that He put on himself. He willingly, lovingly put all of that on Himself!
And He carried it all away from me into the desert.
Like a scapegoat.
I sit here in peace before God today because Jesus became a scapegoat for me. I really can't begin to put that reality into words. I just know that it makes be feel stupid when I think of the fact I still mess up. I mean...what do you do with that?
He knew I'd still act like an idiot and He still died for me!
As the people of God looked at that goat walking into the desert, I'm sure pondering the meaning and reality of what it was doing - take time to look into history and see our scapegoat...walking into the desert for us.
Let that sink in.
Thank you Jesus.