Chris Lane, a friend of Soul Survivor from Salford
In the last few days, Mike and Andy have introduced us to the big themes in Leviticus, and how they point us towards Jesus and his sacrifice for us on the cross. What we read today are more instructions on how the people were to make offerings to God, particularly how to say thanks to him for his grace and goodness.
It’s important to always keep the Exodus story in mind – this is a nation of slaves who have been freed by God, and at their best they are grateful for every opportunity to thank him for this. God here is giving the people ways to express their thanks.
You may be interested in the ‘wave offering’. The late Chief Rabbi Hertz taught that in this offering, the Priest would take the hands of the person holding the sacrifice, and move them forward and backward, then up and down, symbolising the fact that God is the Ruler of heaven and earth. Right here at the centre of the sacrificial system is an offering made to God which actually makes the sign of the cross!
As always with Leviticus, the closer you look, the more you see Jesus. Levi means ‘to join together’, and this book is all about humankind joining again with creator God, and of course this is most fully expressed in the ultimate joining of heaven and earth, when God takes on human flesh in the person of Jesus.
And here in Mark 11 we see Jesus entering the Holy City like a new king arriving for his coronation. And over the next few chapters, Mark describes the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus in terms uncannily similar to the coronation of a Roman Emperor. Only this man will be lifted up on a cross, not a throne. And his crown will be one of thorns, and his purple robe will be stained with his own blood.
As the crowds give their offerings to Jesus the King – palm branches and shouts of ‘Hosanna’ – there is no hint that a few days later, most of them will be shouting ‘crucify him’. Praising Jesus the King on a Sunday, denying him on a Friday. Is that a challenge to any of us?
After hundreds of years of waiting, God himself (in the person of Jesus) returns to the temple. But the systems developed by Moses, David and Solomon are now to be fulfilled by this man who is clearing the temple. Jesus, not the temple system, will now be the way by which sins are forgiven and humans can meet God.
A new day has come. Extraordinary things are in store for those who believe – mountains can be moved. As the Psalmist prays, we have a God who hears us, and as we trust him we are helped and strengthened.
If you’d like to take your own picture to potentially be featured on the blog, then get your Soul Survivor Bible in One Year, and take a picture of yourself – and your Bible – at some interesting or colourful location. Then email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The pictures will need to be a pretty good resolution (we use 640px by 360 px so at least as big as that) and if you include the day of the reading in the picture then make sure you send it to us a good few days before that reading, so we have time to include it in that day’s post! We’ll credit all photographers!