Submitted by Jan on Tue, 20/03/2018 – 10:51
Year B (2017-2018)
Bible Book: Hebrews
Verse: 4 – 10
Focus Texts: Hebrews 10: 4-10 and Psalm 40:5-10
This Sunday is Palm Sunday, the day when Jesus entered Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. Some refer to this event as ‘Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem’, but we know this procession was nothing like the royal processions of the day. In fact it was the first steps towards his arrest and crucifixion a week later.
By entering Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, Jesus demonstrates his willingness to sacrifice himself. We know that Jesus’s sacrifice was the ultimate offering that paved the way for our reconciliation with God. No bull or lamb or goat or pigeon would have to be slaughtered again.
As I am currently reluctantly busy reading the Book of Numbers, I am quite aware of the chapters of instructions relating to burnt offerings, atonement offerings, peace offerings, absolution offerings, wave offerings, grain offerings and possibly a few more I cannot recall.
Then when we read in Hebrew 10:4 that “the blood of bulls and goats can never take away sin” and we might be tempted to ask; so what was the point of all these sacrifices? Though I do ask these questions, I cannot offer a clear response.
But what I do know, is that the offerings and sacrifice God asks of us today has nothing to do with the spilling of blood.
Richard Rohr wrote:
“The problem has been that we might know that something has to die, but throughout much of religious history the emphasis has been on killing the wrong thing.”
In Hebrew 10: 5-7 we read:
For this reason, when Christ was about to come into the world, he said to God:
“You do not want sacrifices and offerings,
But you have prepared a body for me.
You are not pleased with animals burned whole on the altar
or with sacrifices to take away sins.
Then I said, ‘Here I am to do your will, O God,
Just as it is written of me in the book of the Law.’” (The Good News Bible)
Reading these verses in the New Testament, after Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection, leads quite logically to our understanding of our salvation.
But what interests me is that these words were quoted from Psalms 40, that was written long before the birth of Jesus.
“You do not want sacrifices and offerings;
You do not ask for animals burned whole on the altar or for sacrifices to take away sins.”
Instead, David wrote: “You have given me ears to hear you, and so I answered, ‘Here I am; your instructions for me are in the book of the Law.’” (The Good News Bible)
In the Message Psalm 40: 4 reads:
‘Blessed are you who give yourselves over to God, turn your backs on the world’s “sure thing” (and) ignore what the world worships.
And verse 6:
“Doing something for you, bringing something to you – that is not what you’re after.
Being religious, acting pious – that’s not what you’re asking for.
You have opened my ears so I can listen.”
Richard Rohr concludes:
“The truth is it’s you who has to die, or rather, who you think you are, the False Self. Authentic religion is always about you. It is saying you change first.”
To Think About / Discuss:
In a world faced with so much stigma, discrimination, violence and intolerance towards people who are different from you, what does it mean to give ourselves to God and to turn our backs on the worldly displays of power and leadership?
How can we embody the message that Christ crucifixion paved the way to salvation for all people, regardless of our race, ethnicity, sex, health status, class, occupation, education or sexual orientation?
Written By: Ms A Fourie-Le Roux, Training Manager CABSA
Author: Fourie-Le Roux A (Ms)