Key verse: Leviticus 1:3
Big idea: A sacrifice for sin must be holy.
Imagine a groom who is in charge of purchasing the flowers for his wedding. He waits until the day before, goes to Walmart, and finds the ones marked “Must-Go”! They are slightly wilted, slightly brown, and slightly likely to lead to his death when his bride sees them. Or maybe he went to the venue and asked them to set aside any leftover flowers from the weddings that week so he could use them. Is any man, consumed with love and excitement for his wedding, going to give his new wife what is left over? Or is he going to give her the best he can afford? She certainly expects more than that. It seems ridiculous, but how many of us treat God that way?
Under the Law of Moses, sacrifices needed to be “without blemish.” You could not take the sheep that was lame or sick and offer it to God, like some people bring beat-up furniture to the Salvation Army to write-off on their taxes. God demanded and deserved the very best. Giving Him anything less than you would give your fiancé or your boss reveals how little you think of Him. It is an insult, and in some sense, blasphemy. It does not please God, and does not win His favor.
When someone sinned, a sin offering was required. The sacrifice must be perfect, or it would not be accepted. First, a cheap sacrifice would reveal an unrepentant heart, still more concerned with what benefits me than what a deserve. Second, it undermines the severity of sin by denying that it is costly. But ultimately, it is because the sin offering was not an end-point but a signpost to Christ’s sacrifice. 1 Peter 1:18-19 puts it this way, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for sin because He “knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21, see also: Romans 8:3 and 1 John 3:5). The sacrifice of the sinless Jesus showed the cost of sin and paid it, and showed a heart of unchained grace: the very best Heaven had to offer to rescue rebellious sinners.
If that was the price of our salvation, what do we give God? Do we give Him the time we have left over after working overtime for our vacation, kids’ sports, our social life, and TV? Too often the Lord who made us and bought us gets the scraps when everyone else is finished. Do we give Him the last of our money or what’s first? Your bank account will often show who your true master is even why you try to lie to yourself. God gave the very best for us, so we should give the very best to Him.
Discussion idea: Ephesians 5:27 says that Jesus presents the church to Himself “without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.” How does that relate to the standard for sacrifices? Compare and contrast the church as a “sacrifice” with the sin offering of Jesus. See Romans 12.
Prayer focus: Lord, thank you for giving us the truly
perfect sacrifice and redeemer, so that we could have abundant life. Forgive us
for the times that we have given you second-best. Help us to put you first as
individuals, as a family, and as a church.