Exodus 29:19-21 “You shall take the other ram, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on the head of the ram, and you shall kill the ram and take part of its blood and put it on the tip of the right ear of Aaron and on the tips of the right ears of his sons, and on the thumbs of their right hands and on the great toes of their right feet, and throw the rest of the blood against the sides of the altar. Then you shall take part of the blood that is on the altar, and of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it on Aaron and his garments, and on his sons and his sons’ garments with him. He and his garments shall be holy, and his sons and his sons’ garments with him.
Let’s say you are a thirteen year old Jewish girl and you just woke to the surprise that your thirteen year old third distant cousin Derek from Minnesota would be there by breakfast. He is staying for a week and is doing a research paper for a school project on the culture of Israel. As you show him around during the week, he stops in shock as he sees Aaron and his sons hacking up animals and spreading blood all over things. They are taking off their sandals and putting blood on their big toe, dipping in their thumbs, and then dabbing just a hint on the right ear lobe. They are setting animals on fire, throwing blood all over each other’s garments and even waving hunks of meat in the air. He dares to ask you the question of what they are doing, and then further asks why anyone would want to be a part of your bloody culture. You gulp down a swallow and tell him it gets even worse. “Derek, if you want to stay and be a part of our culture, you have to have another man slice off a bit of skin from your penis. It’s called circumcision,” and your cousin’s eyes are as big as saucers.
One of the mysteries of the gospel is that God’s love and redemption expands to include all people, not just the Jews. After all, who would voluntarily decide to be a part of such a bloody and strange culture as this? What a relief to be a gentile when Jesus walked the earth. To learn you can have forgiveness of sin, once for all, without having to become Jewish. What a gift. To learn that all of those cultural expressions, along with the offerings were pointers to the Lamb of God who has now taken away the sin of the world. To learn that he offered himself once for all and has sat down at the right hand of the Father. To learn there is no other name under heaven by which we can be saved. To learn it is finished! Faith comes by hearing. What a gift! What a gift we have today in Jesus.