Waynedale United Methodist Church
Wednesday, November 21, 2018
Making Disciples of Jesus for the Transformation of the World!
   

April 29, 2018 Sermon

“Worship As Sacrifice”
Leviticus 4:1 – 7, 5:14 – 19

Ted Jansen April 29, 2018 Waynedale UMC

 

1.)        “I have good news for all of you. You are the chosen people.   You, of all the nations and tribes on earth, are God’s special people. You will be blessed and favored. God did not want you to be servants for the rest of your days. He intervened to free you from the Egyptians. We are all witnesses to the many miracles. We are a blessed people. This is good news!         

            I have some bad news for all of you. You failed to measure up to the standards as God’s chosen people. You have not lived holy lives. You have sin and selfishness in your heart. You are sinners and have chosen to set yourself apart from God’s blessing. When you break the Law you failed God. The Law was given for life but it has become death for us. That is bad news!        

            I have some great news for all of you. God has prepared a way for us to be forgiven for our sin. We can know the blessing and favor of God, again.   We have been given a set of instructions that involves the sacrifice of unblemished animals.   When we do that we can be forgiven by God and forgive others. This is great news!”   

                

2.)        Moses could have shared the news to the Israelites like that! The sacrifices were great news in that they allowed the Israelites a path to a restored relationship with God. The five different sacrifices had instructions on how to fulfill them and as we discern God’s desire they focus the Israelites in their relationship with God and others. 

           

3.)        Here is an overview of the sacrifices, the relational aspect and the scripture reference.  

Burnt               Dedication of life                    Leviticus 1
Grain               Thankfulness and Praise         Leviticus 2
Peace               Fellowship and Friendship      Leviticus 3
Sin                   Forgiveness by God                Leviticus 4
Guilt                Forgiveness by/of others         Leviticus 5
  

4.)        The sin and guilt offerings address the need for forgiveness. We see this in the fact that when the animals were sacrificed for the sin offering a priests hand had to be laid on the head before the animal was killed. (Leviticus 4:4) 

The personal aspect of forgiveness of sin was real and vivid to the priest and those that were watching. This wasn’t an act seen from a distance, this was up close and personal. A hand was on the head of the animal as it was being killed.   

The animal was killed and its blood shed, poured out, sprinkled. You can study more about this in Leviticus 4:4 and other scripture from Leviticus. It is intense and interesting. 

 

5.)        The personal aspect of pain and sacrifice made me think about when our kids would get their shots.   We would hold on to them and they had no idea what was going to happen. Then they would get a shot, a vaccine, and they would feel the pain and start screaming and crying.          You knew that this was going to help them but at the moment it was painful. The pain would bring health and life later to them.        

 

6.)        The pain of the sacrifice offered in the Old Testament would bring life to the people. The NIV Bible Commentary (page 127, 128) describes the sacrifices in the Old Testament in this way. “Human beings have a problem with sin; they violate God’s law. Such sin had to be atoned for-i.e., to have the penalty paid and the guilt removed-in order for fellowship between God and his people to be renewed. God revealed the sacrificial system as the means of atonement.” 

            The sacrificial system allowed good to come out of pain and sacrifice. God’s design and God’s desire. God was interested in redeeming people and not just having animals killed.  

  

7.)        The Ten Commandments were the first path that God’s people were to stay on. When they did not keep them they were sinners, lawbreakers, who had to deal with consequences.  

               As we think of our modern day laws we have a justice system that holds people accountable to the laws. We live in a world were actions have consequences. If you break a law you suffer the consequences. 

 

8.)        What if the church published information on the spiritual life of each person? Would you feel shame, guilt, suffering, etc.? What if all our sins were listed each week? How do you feel that would add or take away from our worship service? What if each person had to pick up their information sheet as they came to worship? What if my name and sins was on a list and I could bring it to God and be forgiven? That would be incredible. My name and my sins wouldn’t be published. Forgiveness provides a relationship with God as a new beginning.   

            God’s design and God’s desire is that we are free from sin. God designed the way, through the sacrifices, we could have our sins forgiven. This truth is what we can hold on to from the OT.   

 

9.)        In his book Written In Blood, Robert Coleman tells the story of a little boy whose sister needed a blood transfusion. She had a rare blood type which she shared with her little brother. The fact that he had recovered from the same disease two years earlier made the chances of success even greater. The doctor carefully explained all this to the little boy, pointing out that without the transfusion his sister would die.

“Would you be brave and give your blood to your sister?” the doctor asked. Johnny hesitated. His lower lip began to tremble. Then he smiled and said, “Sure, for my sister.” The two children were wheeled into the hospital room – Mary, pale and thin; Johnny, robust and healthy. He smiled at his sister, then watched as the blood travelled out of his body, down the clear plastic tube and in to his sister. 

Johnny’s smile faded, and as he lay there feeling weak he looked up at the doctor and said, “Doctor, when do I die?’

Johnny thought that giving his blood to his sister meant giving up his life. Because of his love for her he was prepared to pay the price. A boy dying for his sister. That is what he thought was going to happen. He was prepared because he loved.   

 

10.)      We don’t have to sacrifice animals. We are drawn, not to bronze altar, but to a wooden cross, as we consider the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, His death, as an unblemished lamb, for sins.      

Luke records a time when Jesus was with the disciples thinking about God’s love and the sacrificial lamb. Listen to Luke 22:1, 2, 7, 8, 14 – 20.     

“Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people.

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.

When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”

After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you.  For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”

 

11.)      As I listen to those words I think about the different sacrifices and offerings in Leviticus. I consider the grain offering, that was to be made into bread, or cakes and broken and shared with people. It was an offering of our thanks and praise.  

            I think about the offering that was to be completely consumed, and the other sacrifices where blood was to be shed and placed around the tent of the meeting. 

            It makes me think that in the celebration of Communion Jesus was fulfilling and bringing together the plans of God. The Passover meal, symbolizing the salvation and rescue of the Jews and how the sacrifices the priests had to make all the time. The bread and wine expressed love that was given in Christ our sacrifice for all time and for all people. Christ’s love was powerful, strong and deep in the upper room and each time we celebrate it.    

 

12.)      There was a woman who was given life in a very unexpected manner.   Lorraine Lamb, a native of Detroit, went on a Christian retreat and met someone, who she did not know prior to the retreat, that gave her new life. 

49 year-old Lorraine Lamb had been on dialysis for six years and needed a new kidney.  Although all three of her children had been tested for compatibility for donating, none of them had been able to help their mother. Lamb had resigned herself to a life on dialysis, which cleaned her blood but left her exhausted and demoralized.

Glenda McCloskey came to the retreat to meet her sister, but her trip changed when she happened to meet Lamb and hear her story. McCloskey said, "I was just amazed at how different her life would be if she had a kidney, so I thought, 'I'll give her one.' It seemed a small thing to make a big difference in someone's life."

Tests confirmed that McCloskey was a match, so she went through with the procedure to give a kidney to Lamb. Afterwards Lamb said, "It was kind and wonderful. What else would a Christian do, but I didn't think she understood the depths of what she was offering."

McCloskey's family was not concerned about her decision to help another. McCloskey said, that her family was used to her little adventures. Afterwards, McCloskey added, "This has all been very rewarding. There's no better feeling than knowing you can help someone else. That's what life's about." (http://www.detnews.com (The Detroit News), Women Meet at Christian retreat, Agree on kidney donation, September 22, 2004. Illustration by Jim L. Wilson and Jim Sandell.)

 

13.)      You have new life. You can be forgiven for your sin. You can be close to God. You can know forgiveness by the blood of the lamb that was shed on a cross. You can be free from sin. 

            Here is a prayer that I updated from the UM Hymnal, #892.   

            Our heavenly Father, who by Your love has made us, and through Your love has kept us, and Your love that would make us perfect: We humbly confess that we have not loved You with all our heart and soul and mind and strength, and that we have not loved one another as Christ has loved us. Your life is within our souls, but our selfishness has hindered You. We have not lived by faith. We have resisted Your Spirit. We have neglected Your inspirations. Forgive what we have been; help us amend what we are; and in Your Spirit direct what we shall be; that You may come into full glory of Your creation, in us and in all people; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.