Beckett: Pastoral Thoughts – Jesus the Peace Offering (Leviticus 3)

The sacrifice of a peace offering was to be a male or female animal from the herd or flock without blemish (vv. 1, 6). If the unblemished animal were a lamb, “then he shall offer it before the LORD, lay his hand on the head of his offering, and kill it in front of the tent of meeting; and Aaron’s sons shall throw its blood against the sides of the altar” (vv. 7-8). Thus, once again, we have a foreshadow of Christ on the cross in this offering, whose blood fell upon the “altar” of Mt. Calvary. Just as the animal from the herd or flock and the lamb without blemish had to be killed with its blood spread on the altar, so Christ’s blood, the Lamb of God, was shed on the altar of Mt. Calvary to make peace between us and God the Father. “Therefore,” writes St. Paul,

since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ… For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His life.

Romans 5:1, 6-10

To have reconciliation with someone is to be restored to friendly relations with them, that is, to be at peace with them. Therefore, to be justified by faith, as St. Paul says, means to be at peace with God. This peace is not a feeling but a status before God. As Paul says, we are no longer His enemies. But, as he writes elsewhere, we are now His children. We have this peace with God even though we may not feel it at times, for His peace depends not on our feelings but on the saving work of Christ on the cross. Thus, when you repent in Absolution, or the Lord’s Supper, or in your pastor’s office for private confession and absolution, and you don’t “feel” God’s peace or forgiveness, you are still forgiven and at peace with God because your feelings don’t bring you God’s peace, but the efficacy of Christ’s Word does.

Christ, the Word made flesh, shed His blood for you that you may be justified before God His Father—that you may be reconciled, or put at peace, with Him. And because you believe this, you have peace with God, though you may not feel it at times. This promise depends not on waning emotions but on Christ, the Rock of our salvation—our Cornerstone. The Word was crucified for you; therefore, His work is finished (John 19:30).

Theology Terms Used

  • Justification by Faith: Because of Jesus’ perfect obedience in His life, death, and resurrection, God declares sinners to be just or righteous for Christ’s sake. By faith in this, He credits our sins to Christ and credits Christ’s perfect righteousness to us.

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