By Alex Florez
We were visiting the home of my brother-in-law and his family in Lancaster, PA, and after a twelve hour drive, our nieces and nephews ran out to greet us. I killed the music and lowered the windows to the sound of our niece yelling, “They’re here! They’re here! The Florezes are here!” She knows us, loves us, and she was so excited to be with us in person. My sister in-law served a lovely dinner, which included chicken, burgers, deli meat, and more. As I beheld the marvelous spread, it occurred to me that I take the origin of my food completely for granted.
Perhaps I would appreciate my food more if I had to slaughter the animals myself; the experience of eating it would likely produce a newfound depth of gratitude. And if I had a relationship with the animal, the sustenance provided by its life would probably forge an unprecedented connection in my heart.
Animals sent to slaughter mean that I don’t have to suffer the consequences of hunger. I can’t help but think of Jesus’s sacrifice, His crucifixion that washes the stain of sin from my hands and heart forever. While there is a disconnect between my food and my belly, I pray to never lose sight of the living, breathing man who willingly suffered and died so I could stand at peace in God’s presence.
Leviticus 16 defines the sacrificial system by which generation after generation of ancient Israelites would secure forgiveness for a year’s worth of sin. The Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur, was a big deal; God’s people counted on this annual event to be washed clean of all their transgressions that had stacked up over the year.
Because of Jesus, there is no more need for an annual ritual of atonement. Jesus’s singular sacrifice is sufficient for rendering His people holy “once for all time” (Hebrews 10:10). But Jesus is not an anonymous creature who unwillingly dies at the hands of a human priest. He is the Lamb who was slain because of us, indeed, but also for us. When we read how John the Baptist exclaimed, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29), let us feel the connection between our own lives and the real person who went to the slaughter on our behalf.
When I think of the price of my salvation, it is not a distant possibility; it is a personal reality. I want to use this Advent season to draw closer to Jesus than ever before so that whenever I am in His presence, my heart will rejoice, and I will cry out, “He’s here! He’s here! Jesus is really here!”