Sunday, September 18, 2011

Laying Down the Knife

Blood stained the temple court, ran down the arms of the priests as they performed their grisly work. They smelled of briny entrails and dank bile. Shiny intestines uncoiled beneath their hands and fell in heavy, liquid slaps against dark tiles. Broad slabs of fresh-killed meat dripped red as Your servants sang daily repentance and praise. Hair and fat and cast-off organs piled in fly-blown mounds outside the city gates, the sad products of commanded sacrifice. They, God's elect, smelled unceasingly of the kill.

Bloody sacrifice, though, brought hope. Through it, ancient Jews hoped to approach You. The gate through which they might find forgiveness for their sins ran unfailingly red and unforgiving heat baked it into high stench, but the trail of sacrifice, they knew, led the only way they knew to You. You told them they had to kill to be saved, so they killed and killed and killed.

Then You came. You made sure they were paying attention when You taught them about love and about obedience and about humility and mercy. You made sure they heard when you condemned pride and hypocrisy. Then you made them watch and listen when You ended their incessant bloody sacrifice with Your own. They heard You say what they had memorized, "My God, My God..." and then You declared in triumphant shout so that no one could misunderstand, "It is finished..." You rocked their world with earthquake and rent the veil of their separation from You.

What relief must they have known when You told them that Your sacrifice would be the last! Your death delivered them all. And then You rose to show them its beautiful result. Now, whoever accepts Your death as their own deliverance also rises in glory with You. Blood no longer runs in our temples. Instead, the cross rises before our eyes...

In Him you have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with God's grace.--Ephesians 1:7

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