Summary: A look into the idea from the Day of Atonement of the "scapegoat." Jesus doesn't just forgive our sin - He removes our sin, like a goat being taken away into the desert.
JOHN'S PROCLAMATION: Jesus takes away the sin of the world.
- John 1:29.
- This is an Easter truth that we love to proclaim – and rightfully so!
- Jesus takes away the sin of the world.
- Tell a story that emphasizes only the forgiveness part, not the removal part.
- But what if we don’t fully understand what that statement from John means. What if we have an incomplete understanding of this concept?
A PICTURE OF FORGIVENESS? Sometimes we think of God’s forgiveness like a coat that covers the backpack of rocks we are still carrying.
- Act out this image.
- We understand it to mean that our sin will not be held against us but we still feel like we are carrying the load.
- Variations on that thought:
a. “Let’s not talk about it anymore.”
b. “You don’t get punished but you still feel bad.”
c. “The sin is still there but we pretend like it’s ok.”
- This leaves us feeling like we are still holding onto the sin.
- This morning I want to look at a key Old Testament passage about this. It’s a passage that speaks about the Day of Atonement. But within the instructions that God gave Israel for that important day, there is a part of the ceremony that speaks directly to this and gives us a clearer picture of what God had in mind. This is a part of the ceremony that most people don’t know about. This morning may be the first time you’re hearing this.
A DIFFERENT PICTURE: A scapegoat is the one who takes the blame.
- Leviticus 16:
- v. 7 – Two goats.
- v. 8 – Scapegoat.
- v. 9 – Sin offering.
- v. 10 – Scapegoat – making atonement by sending it into the desert.
- v. 20 – Finished making atonement.
- v. 21 – Confess sins while laying hands on; sent into desert.
- v. 22 – Carry sins away; release it into the desert.
- v. 30 – Day of Atonement.
- Compare this to feeling stuck in our sin.
- We have much lingering guilt and we have no victory.
- Example: Have everyone rip off a small piece of paper. Have them write the first letter of a sin they’ve committed (even better if it’s one that haunts you). Collect the pieces of paper and then somehow (burn? pray over?) “transfer” the sins to the goat symbolically as is alluded to in the Leviticus passage.
- After this example, emphasize the idea that (going back to the John passage) through Christ our sins are “taken away.” That doesn’t just mean they are forgiven, but also that they are taken away. Transition into final point quickly.
A JOYOUS TRUTH: Your sin is not simply forgiven – it is removed.
- The joy of watching that goat walk away with your sin. Your sin is being taken into the desert, never to return.
- “Sin taken away” – Cf. forgiveness vs. freedom.
- With forgiveness, we simply think that we’ve been declared ok; with freedom, the sin is removed so we can move forward in newness of life.
- “Atonement” = “at-one-ment.”
- Being at peace with God. Being at one with Him.
- A couple questions to ponder:
a. If I’m forgiven, why do I keep holding onto my sin?
b. If I’m forgiven, why I do I still feel consumed with guilt?
- Back to the sermon’s opening quote that Jesus “takes away the sin of the world.” Do you see now another level of what that means? A deeper understanding? “Takes away” doesn’t just mean forgiven – it also means removed.