Scripture Focus: Leviticus 16:21-22
21 He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins—and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat away into the wilderness in the care of someone appointed for the task. 22 The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a remote place; and the man shall release it in the wilderness.
Reflection: Two Goats and Jesus
By Erin Newton
Easter is over. What if we still don’t understand it?
Two men on Resurrection morning asked, “What just happened?” Jesus of Nazareth, powerful in word and deed, was crucified (Luke 24). They witnessed the horrifying event but walked away with more questions than answers. It was all so confusing.
Cleopas and his friend were called “slow to believe.” I think their slowness in faith was rooted in their inability to understand and not because they were lazy. Not because they needed higher education. Not because they were of lesser genius. Understanding takes time, questions, and pondering what we think we already know.
We have the benefit of the Spirit to help us as we look back on the Old Testament. When we think about Easter, we ponder why Jesus had to die—what was the meaning of his death? For those questions, one place we look is Leviticus 16.
Two goats are gathered for the Day of Atonement. One goat is killed, and its blood is used to cleanse the sanctuary from the innermost rooms to the outer. The second goat bears the fullness of the iniquities of the people and is banished from the community.
Jacob Milgrom explains, “Evil was banished to its place of origin (e.g., the netherworld, wilderness) or to some place in which its malefic powers could work to the benefit of the sender (e.g., to enemy territory) or in which it could do no harm at all (mountains, wilderness).” A ritual designed to purge and eliminate.
Jesus’ death on the cross more fully accomplishes this ritual. His blood purifies our approach to God so we can enter his presence without fear. His death banishes the power of sin to the wilderness, and we can be free from the bondage of evil.
Hebrews 10:10 says, “We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” The need for ritual atonement is over but we still wrestle with how it all works.
Do we now descend into our daily routines? Do we re-enter the spiritually apathetic weeks on the calendar? I hope we do not. I hope we keep pondering the Gospel. I hope we never tire of asking questions and seeking answers.
Even the disciples left the cross with questions. Faith is a process. May our hearts, just like Cleopas’, burn within us as the Scriptures are opened.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting
Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, and your faithfulness to the clouds. — Psalm 36.5
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.
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