It is interesting to read the Scapegoat and the Trial of Jesus in the same day. At Jesus’ baptism, John tells us in his gospel that John the Baptist prophetically pointed to Jesus with the words, “behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” There are many lambs that John the Baptist could have been referring to. It could have been the lamb of the sin offering we’ve been reading about. It could have been the lamb of the Passover, whose blood decorated the frame of the door as a sign for the angel of death to pass over the house.
But the phrase, “takes away” leads us toward this idea of the scapegoat. The scapegoat was, well, a goat (yes, not a lamb but still) that took the sins of the people upon itself and then took them away into the wilderness. It is from this practice of the People of God that we get our modern idea of a scapegoat, a person to take the blame for something we’ve done wrong.
But unlike the scapegoat of the Old Testament, Jesus was not chosen by lot but was chosen by God, His own Heavenly Father. To choose ones own son to diminish so as to become human and then to suffer and die at our hands is an agony we cannot imagine. We see hints of Jesus’ own agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, but for God the Father, who’s emotions we cannot begin to comprehend, it is simply too much. He has to look away.
Every one of us is broken in some way. The sin to which we are exposed mars our spirits in ways we cannot comprehend, and so we come to Jesus in worship, in prayer, and in relationship as broken people. And still He loves us. In fact, He loves us so much that he is willing to take our brokenness upon Himself and then take it to the ultimate wilderness, death itself. But the Good News is that unlike the scapegoat, He came back. More on that later this week.