Preparing for the Supper: Considering our sin in light of Christ’s fulfilling Sacrifice

Yesterday we looked at the moral law, summarized in the Ten Commandments and commanded by Christ himself, as the basis for what it means to recommit ourselves to our Savior in the Lord’s Supper. Recommittal is an act we do daily as Christians, as often as we repent we are recommitting ourselves to Jesus, but in the Supper as a sign of the covenant we ought to give special attention to it.

If that’s the “obedience side” of the Ten Commandments, there’s another side (at least one other side): seeing our failure as the ground for needing Jesus to be our sacrifice. Today we’re going swim widely and shallowly in the first 9 chapters of Leviticus as a way to consider our sin and Christ’s sacrifice as a means to prepare to partake of the Sacrament worthily.

There were five sacrifices for the OT saint prescribed in Leviticus: the whole burnt offering (offered twice a day), the grain offering, the peace offering, the sin offering, and the guilt offering.

The whole burnt offering was offered in the morning and the evening. It’s called the whole burnt offering because the whole animal is burnt on the altar. Anyone that has tried to burn “green” wood knows how long burning something that isn’t dry takes, imagine how long burning a whole herd animal would take. And doing it twice, daily. This near constant use of the altar, with the attendant smoke, smell, sounds of the animals being slaughtered and the altar’s position in the center of the camp all reveal God’s grace in a striking way. God’s grace in his presence with them, the holy God creator of all things dwelling in their midst.

The grain offering, as the name implies, was the non-bloody offering. As a nomadic people in the wilderness eating meat probably wasn’t happening all that often, unless supernaturally provided by God or for religious reasons. Their flocks would be of more use to them for milk production rather than meat. So breads of different types would be their staple. The grain offering showed forth God’s providential life sustaining kindness to his people in the most basic of their foods. It expressed thanksgiving to God for his providence and God’s ubiquitous work and presence in his people’s lives. “Give us this day our daily bread” was expressed vividly in this OT Sacrament.

The peace offering was the one sacrifice where the worshipper and his family could eat a part of the sacrificial animal on the Tabernacle grounds. It was a small image of what the Israelite elders did in Ex. 24 and it foreshadows the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in Rev. 19, as such in the communing aspect of eating in God’s presence it is reflected in our Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Believers have nothing to fear being in God’s presence, while at the deepest level believers are the only people on earth who fear God appropriately. This sacrifice shows us that Jesus came, lived, suffered, died, and was resurrected to restore “God with us”, Immanuel.

The sin offering is unique in that it cleansed objects rather than people. We use a variety of cleaning products at our house, but we’ve never used blood to clean. The sin offering used the blood from a sacrificial animal to cleanse the holy utensils in the Tabernacle. Inanimate objects don’t possess a will, therefore they can’t sin, but the Israelites’ sinfulness corrupted the Tabernacle and all its utensils. We’re corrupt in our natures and it’s our hearts that corrupt us and everything that comes out of us and we all have the ability to corrupt each other. Jesus fixes even that by breaking the dominion of sin we were once trapped under.

Finally the guilt offering had two parts: a sacrificial animal plus repayment. It was used when you were guilty of an offense against a neighbor. The sacrifice was for the sin against God (horizontal direction) as well as expressing your regret for sinning against your neighbor, the repayment was you making it right between you and him. It was actually repayment of what was lost (due to your negligence or similar circumstance) plus 20% of its value. In this sacrifice we see that God forms and keeps the fellowship between his people at a very high price–all sacrifices point to Christ, so Christ is the price for our fellowship with each other, we ought to guard it well. And the repayment of your debt expresses the fact that a debt was incurred, similar to the debt of sin, but dissimilar in that you can never repay the debt you owe God.

Meditation points from the sacrifices:

Whole burnt offering–the constant, never-ending supply of grace in the person of Jesus

Grain offering–the gracious provision for all that is needed for life, and eternal life in Jesus

Peace offering--through Jesus we are at peace with God, we have God with us in a beneficial way rather than what we deserve

Sin offering–I’m much more sinful than I can ever know, Jesus fixed that by freeing me from the dominion of sin and is fixing it through the Spirit applying Jesus’ work to my heart

Guilt offering–I could never repay an infinite God a debt I incurred, because by definition the debt is infinite–but Jesus did.

Thanks be to the Son!