I read Leviticus chapter 1 today, and was confronted by the immediate violence of the book. Male animals without blemish are to be slaughtered before the Lord. Birds are to be decapitated and torn nearly apart before being offered to the Lord. The gritty details of the passage pressed into my mind: real human beings took real live animals, slaughtered them with their own hands, and offered them in burning sacrifice, all to atone for sin. This is not just a story. This really happened.
These gritty, violent details pressed a more startling reality into my soul. This same violence was done to Jesus. He was brutalized, his flesh was torn, his soul was flayed by the wrath of God. My sins were transferred to his head and he became a bleeding sacrifice in my place, to atone for my sin. This is not just a story. This really happened.
The cross of Jesus Christ was not a quiet, tempered place of calm endurance. It was a scene of crushing pain and bruising punishment, of agony and horror. Jesus did not just invite me into heaven; he was slaughtered, like a Levitical animal, to bring me the free gift of salvation. The cosmic treason of sin can only lead to a violent death. The precious Son endured that death for me. And by his punishment we have received eternal peace with God.
Lord Jesus, thank you for for bearing my guilt and dying my death. Receive my adoration, awe, and thankfulness to your eternal glory, and keep me always near the cross.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
See from his head, his hands, his feet
Sorrow and blood flow mingled down
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet
Or thorns compose so rich a crown? –Isaac Watts, 1707