Scripture Focus: Leviticus 1.3-4
3 “ ‘If the offering is a burnt offering from the herd, you are to offer a male without defect. You must present it at the entrance to the tent of meeting so that it will be acceptable to the Lord. 4 You are to lay your hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on your behalf to make atonement for you.
19 …Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
Reflection: Jesus, Our Burnt Offering — Holy Week
By John Tillman
In John’s gospel, he wastes no time telling us, through the testimony of John the Baptizer, that Jesus is the “Lamb of God.” (John 1.29, 36)
John’s gospel often connects Jesus to ritual practices or feasts that were part of the worship of God. Perhaps this is because of his familiarity with the priesthood. John’s rabbi before Jesus, John the Baptizer, was from a priestly family and John, the writer, was allowed into Jesus’ trial before Caiphas because he was “known” to the high priest. (John 18.15)
Many offerings were ritual meals. A representative portion would be burned. The priest would eat a portion as well as the offeror and offeror’s family. Leftovers also were burned. Burnt offerings, however, were different. Everything had to be consumed by fire. In both cases, offerings were to be totally consumed on the day offered, by fire or as food.
When bringing a burnt offering, one placed one’s hands on the animal as a recognition that the offering was a substitute for the offeror. This represented transferring one’s sins to the animal. Burnt offerings for sin made “peace” with God.
The head of a family brought a burnt offering on behalf of himself and his family. God offered Jesus as a lamb on our behalf, to bring us into his family. Jesus is the Lamb of God, a “male without defect,” who takes our sins upon himself. When Jesus spoke to Mary outside the tomb, “peace” had been accomplished in Christ’s resurrected body through his sacrifice on the cross.
As we pass through Holy Week, we see Jesus offer his back to the whips, his hands to the cruel nails, his body to the abuse of those he came to save. We see his blood sprinkled on those who assault him and on the cross that became an altar. We see him poured out before God as a drink offering. We see him raised in the air as a wave offering.
In Holy Week, Jesus was being consumed. He was burned up for our sin. As we reflect on Holy Week, as we watch him burn, may we humble ourselves and repent.
Rather than us placing our hands on a lamb’s head, let us bow our heads in humility. The resurrected Lamb of God, who died to take away our sin, will lift our heads to see his loving face.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter them; I will offer thanks to the Lord. — Psalm 118.19
– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis TickleToday’s Readings
Leviticus 1 (Listen – 2:37)
John 20 (Listen – 4:17)
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