Lent Devotion for March 5, First Sunday in Lent
“A Lamb without Blemish”
Reader: “The animal you select must be a one-year-old male,”
Response: “Either a sheep or a goat, with no defects.”
SCRIPTURE: Exodus 12:1-5
12 While the Israelites were still in the land of Egypt, the Lord gave the following instructions to Moses and Aaron: 2 “From now on, this month will be the first month of the year for you. 3 Announce to the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each family must choose a lamb or a young goat for a sacrifice, one animal for each household. 4 If a family is too small to eat a whole animal, let them share with another family in the neighborhood. Divide the animal according to the size of each family and how much they can eat. 5 The animal you select must be a one-year-old male, either a sheep or a goat, with no defects.
SCRIPTURE: Hebrews 9:13-15
13 Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer could cleanse people’s bodies from ceremonial impurity. 14 Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. 15 That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant.
SCRIPTURE: I Peter 1:18-20
18 For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. 19 It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. 20 God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but now in these last days he has been revealed for your sake.
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
When God instituted the sacrificial system, in His conversation with Moses, He was very specific about every last detail. Have you ever wondered why? Elsewhere in the book of Hebrews, the writer tells us that the earthly Tabernacle and worship is a copy, a shadow of perfect heavenly worship. If our time here is but a faint hint of the real thing, then every part of what we do and offer, carries significance. The sacrificial offering of a perfect lamb is of greater importance than just the lamb, because the lamb represents more than the lamb. The animal is simply a placeholder for you and for me until the real Sacrifice comes along. Growing up on a farm, we had sheep. As boys, we were in 4-H. When people would show sheep at the fair, they would always pick the very best lamb of the flock to enter the show. Not all lambs were the same. Abel understood this when he offered his best lamb from the flock to God in worship; his brother, Cain, played more loosely with God’s directive to his own demise. Worshiping a holy, perfect God, it would seem, would require a perfect offering humans could make, hence the perfect lamb without defect. But since the lamb was merely a placeholder, the sacrifice had to be repeated again and again because the sacrifice was “coming from earth” in reaching to heaven. Though a perfect lamb, it was not perfect enough to pass the heavenly standard of God. It was clear. The perfect sacrifice would have to originate from heaven, and at the same time, have a very earthly, humanity connection. There was only one Perfect Lamb, the Lamb of God. This sacrifice was perfectly efficacious, and because it was so, it need never be repeated. The price for our sin, and the sin of the whole world, for all of time has been paid in full. God has accepted the perfect sacrifice of his Son as evidenced by the resurrection. Glory to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!
MUSIC: “Rejoice Greatly” from Messiah by Sylvia McNair
This is a charming rendition. Beautifully done by a woman who believes what she is singing!
Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you without blemish before the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
–Jude 24 (Jesus’ earthly brother.)