The Last Sacrifice
|Pixabay, Public Domain|
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…” (KJV)
Life is not good or merciful a lot of the time. So what is the shepherd telling us here?
In the world of the Old Testament, lambs were destined for slaughter, especially those bred on the hills outside of Jerusalem. From their perspective, if they had one, life was not good or merciful. Their end was as a sacrifice on the altar in the temple. Lamb after lamb, year after year, decade after decade.
Then came the Great Shepherd Who, strangely enough, was also the last lamb required to go to slaughter. John the Baptist introduced his cousin, Jesus, with these prophetic words: “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”
The writer to the Hebrews notes: “…we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all…by one sacrifice he made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Hebrews 10:10, 14). Justification (declared righteous) and sanctification (the process of becoming what we have been declared to be) in a brief summary statement.
He continues with: “…no sacrifice for sins is left” (Hebrews 10:26). Jesus was the last Lamb required to take that journey to the altar of sacrifice for sin.
The Great Shepherd gave His life as a Lamb to the slaughter so that we would know “goodness and mercy” — eternal value.
Life isn't always goodness and mercy. But then, it isn’t meant to be. Oh, we get glimpses of it along the way, but something like the carry-on bag that trails along behind us on our journey, we don’t get to unpack it all until we get to our final destination.
The cross is our constant reminder of the goodness and mercy of a Great Shepherd Who became the last sacrifice—and of all that sacrifice means to us now, and in the future.