It’s been awhile since I posted an Our Daily Journey entry for feedback. Here is one that means a lot to me. I won’t submit it for a couple of weeks, so if you see something, say something.
The meat section of my grocery store is clean and pleasant. Festive music plays as I select refrigerated trays of pork, beef, and chicken. Each package is shrink wrapped in clear plastic, with only an occasional smudge of blood. This inadvertent stain is a reminder that no matter how much the store tries to conceal it, its meat section is built on death.
The same is true of Christian worship. We gather as freshly showered people in pleasant buildings to worship God with joyful songs. We should clean up and sing music that moves our hearts. But if we’re not careful, we can easily forget that every worship service is built on death. Our praise is only possible because of slaughter.
Every Old Testament Israelite would have known this immediately. No one could worship God without sacrificing a lamb, goat, calf, bull, or bird. The Temple would begin and end each day by killing a lamb, plus two more on the Sabbath. More lambs would be sacrificed by individuals who came to confess their sin. During Passover at the time of Christ, 30,000 lambs may have been sacrificed at the Temple in the span of two hours. Imagine the bleating, the bleeding, and the stench! Jewish worship was a slaughterhouse.
We no longer sacrifice lambs because the Lamb of God has been sacrificed. To ritually kill an animal today would be to deny that Jesus has come. But our worship is no less built on blood. Jesus “has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice” (Hebrews 9:26).
We shower and sing because Jesus’ death has made us clean. So we join the praise of heaven: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered,” for his “blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9-12).
Picture by Lamb of God 56. Via Flickr. Used by permission.