Day after day, I stood in the same place doing the identical thing. Some of the people were the same, but many were new to the ceremony. They came from as close as a mile and as far as 100 miles. Those who traveled great distances often came with money instead of animals. The Temple court was always filled with merchants eager to exchange their foreign currency and sell those animals—all for exuberant prices. These practices were helpful, but the merchants took every opportunity to make a little money in the process.
As each worshiper delivered their sacrifice, I—along with the other priests, performed the duty we so much despised. Blood flowed wildly, and the stench was almost overbearing. The abhorrent scenery of my work eventually lost its disgusting nature as I slit the throats of hundreds of animals each day. Prayers to God became nothing more than a ritual of repeating the same words as I assured the worshiper of God’s forgiveness. I had repeated the words so many times I no longer even thought about their meaning. When would it all end? I knew the prophecies of the Scriptures by heart. God would send a Messiah, One who would provide the ultimate sacrifice. But when?
Then the news came. Messiah had come. The religious leaders opposed him, but the common people hounded his steps and marveled at his miracles. Could he be the one? I was almost ready to believe when the religious authorities had him crucified. As I watched him hang on the cross—bloodied, bruised, and in agony, I wondered how he could be the one. But as he breathed his last, a strange event materialized. The curtain in the temple that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies was torn from top to bottom. It finally dawned on me. Jesus was the better priest. His sacrifice actually took away sins, not just covered them as the animal sacrifices had. All that remained was for me to believe and accept this different priest.
What have you done with God's High Priest?
Prayer: Father, thank You for providing the ultimate and final sacrifice for our sins.
(Photo courtesy of morguefile and Alvimann.)