Friday, January 18, 2008

Anybody need a scapegoat?

"And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness." Leviticus 16:21

"In Passion Week, as I was reading Bishop Wilson on the Lord's Supper, I met with an expression to this effect -- 'that the Jews knew what they did, when they transferred their sin to the head of their offering.' The thought came into my mind, What, may I transfer all my guilt to another? Has God provided an Offering for me, that I may lay my sins on His head? Then, God willing, I will not bear them on my own soul one moment longer. Accordingly, I sought to lay my sins upon the sacred head of Jesus."

Charles Simeon, quoted in Handley C. G. Moule, Charles Simeon, pages 25-26.

Here we are, guilty people in a guilty world, often dumping our guilt and sadness on others, blaming them, pointing the finger, making ourselves out to be victims. Why are we like this? Because we know we cannot bear our own guilt. We deeply need someone else to bear it for us. "Hey roommate with whom I am having this argument, I am so unhappy, so uncertain about myself, but I know I cannot face the reality of what I am. So I want to make you the problem. Please stand still for five minutes while I really give it to you, okay? All this guilt, all this sorrow, all this anger -- would you please bear it away for me?" Trouble is, my roommate or spouse or child or parent or colleague or neighbor or whoever -- their strategy for off-loading their own misery is the same. Every human being on the face of the earth is so guilty, and looking for a scapegoat.

Above it all, Jesus stands forth and says to us, "Anyone need a scapegoat? How about me? The sin and regret and shame you cannot bear yourself -- at my cross, I carried away the guilt of many sinners, some worse than you, and that guilt will never ever return to them. I bore it away into a far wilderness. But I rose up from it all, too, because God was so pleased with me. I am the perfect scapegoat you're looking for. Bring it on."