The next day he [John the Baptist] saw Jesus coming to him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
In a sense, my younger brother could be compared to an escape goat. When we were still children there was hardly a day that passed in which we did not get into a little “brotherly scuffle.” At that point in time, it was easy to place the blame on him. It was an unspoken rule between the two of us: Drew was always the one who “started it” and if not, there were to be “consequences” at a later date and time. That was easy when he was 5 years younger than me and 5 inches shorter. Now, however, while my brother remains an unchallenged 5 years younger, he towers over me by at least 6 inches. Lets just say his days as the “escape goat” have long since passed.
The history of the escape goat is buried deep within the Jewish faith. Leviticus 16:21-22 explains how the high priest would “place” the sins of the nation on a goat and send it out into the wilderness. This goat symbolically bore and carried off the sins of Israel. What an awesome picture of God’s forgiveness! John describes Christ as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” On the surface it would appear that Jesus resembles the escape goat almost exactly. Studying scripture though, I find an amazing difference between my brother and the escape goat when compared to Christ. Unlike my brother and the Jewish escape goat, Jesus Christ willingly took our sins upon Him. No one forced the Son of God to bleed for our sins. It was His grace alone that took them from us. Furthermore, Christ did not simply cover our sins with His blood; we do not have to sacrifice our Lord once a year as the high priest was commanded to sacrifice the goat on an annual basis (Hebrews 9:24-28). He died once for our sins. Once was all it took.
What an amazing sacrifice! Take some time today to meditate on the unfailing love of our God. Remember that unlike my brother, Christ was never forced to take the penalty for our sins. It was the free gift of God… the only way to salvation.