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Leviticus 19:1-8, 1 -18 !att"e# :38-48 1 $orint"ians 3:10-11, 1%-1&
If you are married, or if you have children, or nieces or nephews, or have friends, or pets, or relationships of almost any kind, you have probably learned something about sacrifice. The only way that we can do whatever we want, whenever we want, all the time, is if we are alone or if we absolutely care nothing about the people we are with. When we are with people that we care about, we begin to sacrifice some of what #e want so that they can do some of the things that t"ey want. The more that we care about them, and the more that we love them, the more we begin to sacrifice our needs and our desires for others. When we are married we do less of the things that we liked to do before we were married so that we can spend time doing things that our partner likes to do and so that we can do things that we both enjoy doing together. When we have children, our level of sacrifice goes higher still. Since our children need our help just to survive, we give up much of our time and energy feeding them, playing with them, and caring for them in a variety of ways. For years at a time we build our lives around what our children need instead of the things that we #ant. We don t resent our spouse, or our children, or our friends because of our sacrifice, the truth is !uite the opposite. We sacrifice for people we care about because of our love for them. This is, perhaps, one of the great truths of life. "ove and sacrifice are almost always inseparably connected. We find this truth reflected throughout scripture in many ways. #ne that we sometimes struggle with is the #ld Testament system of temple sacrifice but if we read about the beginning of the sacrificial system in Leviticus 19:1-8, 1 -18, we can clear up some of our confusion$ On the eighth day Moses summoned Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel. 2 He said to Aaron, “Take a bull calf for your sin offering and a ram for your burnt offering, both without defect, and resent them before the !ord.
Then say to the Israelites# $Take a male goat for a sin offering, a calf and a lamb%both a year old and without defect%for a burnt offering, & and an o' and a ram for a fellowshi offering to sacrifice before the !ord, together with a grain offering mi'ed with oli(e oil. )or today the !ord will a ear to you.*+
They took the things Moses commanded to the front of the tent of meeting, and the entire assembly came near and stood before the !ord. - Then Moses said, “This is what the !ord has commanded you to do, so that the glory of the !ord may a ear to you.+
Moses said to Aaron, “/ome to the altar and sacrifice your sin offering and your burnt offering and make atonement for yourself and the eo le0 sacrifice the offering that is for the eo le and make atonement for them, as the !ord has commanded.+
2o Aaron came to the altar and slaughtered the calf as a sin offering for himself.
Aaron then brought the offering that was for the eo le. He took the goat for the eo le*s sin offering and slaughtered it and offered it for a sin offering as he did with the first one. %
He brought the burnt offering and offered it in the rescribed way. 3. He also brought the grain offering, took a handful of it and burned it on the altar in addition to the morning*s burnt offering.
He slaughtered the o' and the ram as the fellowshi offering for the eo le. His sons handed him the blood, and he s lashed it against the sides of the altar. We hear about sin offerings, burnt offerings, fellowship offerings and grain offerings and we begin to get even more confused than we were before$ but then there are a few sentences that begin to clear things up. &aron is to make sacrifices$ because 'today the !ord will a ear to you.+ ear to
(oses tells the people that )od has commanded these sacrifices 'so that the glory of the !ord may a you.+
&nd (oses tells &aron that he must make the sacrifices to 'a(e atone'ent for himself and for the people. *ow, atonement isn t a word that most of us use every day, but it means, 'to make amends, or reparation, for an injury or wrong,+ or 'to make reconciliation between )od and human beings.+ &s we have been discussing for the last couple weeks, humans are good at making mistakes and messing things up. It is all too easy for us to do things that damage our relationships with our friends and family as well as our relationship with )od. With that understanding, this passage reveals that the #ld Testament sacrifice was designed to repair the relationship between )od and his people so t"at )od could draw near to them and reveal himself to them. )od loved his people and desired to have a relationship with them. ,ecause of the damage that had been done to their relationship he couldn t get close so )od created a way for the relationship to be patched. )od symbolically creates a way for people to sacrifice something of value in order to repair their relationship with )od. #ne reason )od does it this way is because everyone understands that all of are willing to make sacrifices for the relationships that matter. "ove and sacrifice are almost always connected &ll of us are willing to sacrifice for what we love. ,ut there are things that have changed since the #ld Testament. (ost importantly, -esus came to earth, lived, died, and rose again so that we could be a part of a new covenant, a new contract, with )od instead of the original covenant that re!uired temple sacrifices. -esus came to earth and became the sacrifice. -esus sacrificed himself because of his great love for us. "ove and sacrifice are always connected. ,y his death and resurrection, -esus became our atonement. he repaired our relationship with )od for all time. In any case, the temple in -erusalem was destroyed by the /oman army two thousand years ago and hasn t been rebuilt$ sort of. In 1 $orint"ians 3:10-11, 1%-1&, we discover that for the followers of -esus 0hrist, there is a new temple.
5y the grace 6od has gi(en me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. 5ut each one should build with care. 33 )or no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is 7esus /hrist. .
8on*t you know that you yoursel(es are 6od*s tem le and that 6od*s 2 irit dwells in your midst9 3. If anyone destroys 6od*s tem le, 6od will destroy that erson0 for 6od*s tem le is sacred, and you together are that tem le. 1
2nder our new contract with )od, the followers of -esus 0hrist have beco'e the temple and )od lives within each one of us. ,ut if we no longer have to make sacrifices to repair our relationship with )od, and if love and sacrifice are still connected, then what is it that we can sacrifice to show )od our love for him3 The more cynical among us would jump in at this point and say that the sacrifice )od wants is your money, but while that may be one small way that we show our gratitude and thankfulness, that isn t it. 4ou have likely have heard me say this before, but the thing that )od wants more than anything else, is your heart. In !att"e# :3848, -esus says this$
“:ou ha(e heard that it was said, $;ye for eye, and tooth for tooth.* "< 5ut I tell you, do not resist an e(il erson. If anyone sla s you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. &4 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand o(er your coat as well. &3 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. &2 6i(e to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
“:ou ha(e heard that it was said, $!o(e your neighbor and hate your enemy.* && 5ut I tell you, lo(e your enemies and ray for those who ersecute you, &, that you may be children of your )ather in hea(en. He causes his sun to rise on the e(il and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. &- If you lo(e those who lo(e you, what reward will you get9 Are not e(en the ta' collectors doing that9 &. And if you greet only your own eo le, what are you doing more than others9 8o not e(en agans do that9 &1 5e erfect, therefore, as your hea(enly )ather is erfect. -esus says that what he wants is for our hearts to be changed so that we act differently than we used to, and so that we act differently than the people around us. It s easy to hit someone who hits you first, but harder to hold back. It s easy to only do only as much as you are re!uired to do, but harder to do more than you have to do. It s easy to tell people that you re busy so you can stay home and rela5 but harder to lend a helping hand. It s easy to tell someone that you re broke, but harder to loan them your money. It s easy to hate the people who hate you and love the people who are nice to you, but -esus says that people with a changed heart will do more than that. )od loves the people who love him as well as the people who hate him and he calls on his followers to do the same. )od s temple lives within each one of us and the sacrifice that )od wants is a changed heart. The sacrifice that )od wants is a heart that loves the people around you the way that )od loves them. "ove and sacrifice are inseparably connected. -esus sacrificed his life because of his love for us. The sacrifice that )od wants is for us to love others.
4ou have been reading a message presented at Trinity 2nited (ethodist 0hurch on the date noted at the top of the first page. /ev. -ohn 7artridge is the pastor at Trinity of 7erry heights in (assillon, #hio. 8uplication of this message is a part of our (edia ministry, if you have received a blessing in this way, we would love to hear from you. "etters and donations in support of the (edia ministry or any of our other projects may be sent to Trinity 2nited (ethodist 0hurch, 69:9 "incoln Way ;., (assillon, #hio <<=<=. These messages are available to any interested persons regardless of membership. 4ou may subscribe to these messages, in print or electronic formats, by writing to the address noted, or by contacting us at subscribe>trinityperryheights.org. If you have !uestions, you can ask them in our discussion forum on Facebook ?search for 7astor -ohn #nline@. These messages can also be found online at httpABBwww.scribd.comB7astor -ohn 7artridge. &ll Scripture references are from the *ew International Cersion unless otherwise noted.