Part Three of the Atonement
When we look back to the Old Testament, we see that God had a plan to save his people from the very beginning. In Genesis 3, God promised a Saviour would come from the seed of the woman to crush the head of the serpent. After that, he clothed them with the skin of a sacrificial animal. Even from that very early moment, a sacrifice was made to cover his people’s shame.
As the people of Israel grew into a nation and entered into a covenant with God at Mount Sinai, the sacrificial system was introduced as a way for him to live among them despite their uncleanness. This entire system revolved around sacrificing animals in order to receive forgiveness for sins. If you were an Israelite living a thousand years before the birth of Jesus, the cost of forgiveness would have been very clear and obvious to you. Every time you would take an animal to the priests for sacrifice (which, if you are anything like the rest of us, would have been very often!), you would have had to watch it be killed and would have watched its blood poured onto the altar in place of your own.
In Hebrews 9:22, we read, “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” Today, because of what Christ has done for us, we are no longer required to make animal sacrifices, and that is a reality for which we are all very grateful. However, because we lack that constant, physical, visceral reminder of the seriousness of sin and the true price of forgiveness, we can be prone to forget what would have once been impossible to avoid for God’s people. Especially for those who have grown up in a Christian environment, we can become so used to the idea of forgiveness that we forget the high price that it demands.
Under God’s law, our sin—your sin—my sin, past, present, and future can only be forgiven by the shedding of blood, which throughout Scripture is symbolic of life itself. And as strange as it sounds to our ears now, the same is just as true today as it has ever been. The only question we need to ask ourselves is “whose blood?” Apart from Christ, the only other option is our own. But for all of us who have trusted in Jesus, that penalty has been paid on our behalf. God doesn’t simply sweep sin under the rug and shrug it off like it isn’t a big deal; the forgiveness of sin requires the payment of the ultimate price, and praise be to God that price has already been paid on the Cross for all who are united to Jesus by faith!
As we enter into the season of Easter and celebrate the sacrificial death of Jesus to purchase our forgiveness, may we all be struck with a fresh sense of just how great a price was paid for the forgiveness we now freely enjoy!
All the best,