Originally scheduled for July 10
Those who read through the Bible in the year understand where the
quagmires are. One such place is the book of Exodus. It is often
full of very specific instructions, particularly when it comes to
the worship of the Lord God Almighty. One instance is found here:
But the flesh of the bull and its skin and its dung you shall burn
with fire outside the camp; it is a sin offering.
Repeated elsewhere in the Old Testament, the instruction is
quite specific: a sin offering must be totally consumed by fire or
other destruction. It may not be eaten. The symbolism is pretty
clear; offerings for anything but sin may be consumed inside the
camp. Sin offerings must be destroyed outside the camp.
notice, the offering must be completely destroyed — not just
partially. It’s an offering for sin and therefore should bring no
benefit to us, the ones doing the sacrifice. If your sin offering is
to be effective, it must bring no immediate benefit to the one who
is offering it.
The writer of the Book of Hebrews picks up
For the bodies of those animals whose blood is
brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for
sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the
gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.
Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he
endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that
is to come.
(Hebrews 13:11-14 ESV)
You will note that Christ
received no direct benefit for being the sacrifice for our sins — we
are the ones you received the benefit; he made the sacrifice. It is
therefore proper that he was sacrificed on our behalf outside the
city walls. It is exactly parallel to the case in Exodus.
Think about that; Jesus of Nazareth was our sin offering. He died a
shameful death in a place where death was meant to be shameful. He
bore the reproach of dying with two common criminals. It should not
surprise you, therefore, that if you are living the imitation of
Christ, you will encounter the same kind of reproach and shame that
Nowhere are we more pointedly reminded of this than
in communion. Remember, communion is a participation in the body of
Christ. Sin offerings are bodily offerings; when you take communion
you are proclaiming the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.
That includes the shame of the Cross; the reproach of a criminal
death. When you take communion you are telling the world that you
stand with Christ and therefore are willing to bear the reproach as
well. Don’t worry about who’s going to reproach you or when you will
face it; Satan will find you somehow. The world is going to let you
know that you are completely unreasonable and should be ashamed of
this Christianity. You just don’t fit in with the world’s way of
doing things, now do you?
No, you don’t fit in. You’re a member
of a different group, the church. When the reproach of the world
comes upon you, remember that it means you are one of his children.
The world may see that as shame; we know it to be a blessing.