Another strong man has bitten the dust in the Middle East - a sad ending to a terrible life. Terrible in the sense that Gadhafi had the power to do good but instead used it for self aggrandizement, for evil. News stories have reported that Gadhafi styled himself as the King of Kings in Africa. This made me think of the first Gulf War and how a little known dictator (to the Western world at least) was claiming that if the UN attacked him, they would find themselves in the Mother of All Wars. After Hussein was totally defeated, this led to a spate of sarcastic comments that started with... "The mother of all...(fill in the blank)."
When Jesus first came on the scene to begin his public ministry, John the Baptist proclaimed him to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). For centuries, the Jewish people had offered lambs as sacrificial atonement for their sins. On the day of Yom Kippur (or "the great day of expiation" as the NJB calls it), a goat was symbolically laden with the sins of the Jewish people and sent outside the city to die.
Like a sacrificial animal, Jesus was slain. When He said "It is finished", it was. God's punishment for wrongdoing had been diverted to His beloved son. We've all felt the weight of sin (unless we are just so far gone that we can't feel for anyone but ourselves). Anger raging within, guilt threatening to crush us, shame for something we did, didn't do, or said, as well as the endless need at times to justify ourselves because deep down we know we are wrong. (The last one is my personal favorite...:( All of these things and more, the Lamb of God took upon Himself on the cross.
Years ago I heard a preacher explain it by telling this story: a man worked for a railroad company and his job was to raise and lower the tracks where they spanned a river bridge. This man operated huge gears and levers. One day he allowed his young son to accompany him to work. Just when it was time for the father to lower the railroad bridge for an oncoming train, he saw that his son had slipped and fallen onto the gears that would have to grind together in order to lower the bridge. As his son cried out for help, the father realized that if he stopped the machinery, all the people on the train would plunge off the upraised bridge and perish. If he didn't, however, his son would die a horrible death.
In anguish, he made the decision to let his own son die.
While the people on the train passed safely over the bridge, unaware of the sacrifice that had been made.
Jesus didn't come boasting about how He was the King of Kings but instead, He predicted His death and announced that He had come to lay down His life voluntarily for all of us train riders. (John 10:28) And then He did that, laying down His life in our place.
Hebrews 13:12-14 says: "Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate... let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come." (NASB)
The writer of Hebrews was saying that like the scape goat offered on Yom Kippur, Jesus was also laden with our sins and exiled to certain death, sent outside the city proper to be executed on a hill. But unlike the goat, Jesus wasn't symbolically burdened with sin. Instead, He carried the real thing. II Cor. 5:21 says that "... He who knew no sin" was actually made "to be sin on our behalf..." (NASB) And the purpose of all this? So that we could be covered in His righteousness.
I started off by talking about hyperbole and about how Gadhafi declared that he was King of Kings in Africa, a pretty empty boast in light of the news coverage this week.
On the other hand, Jesus wasn't into empty boasting. He said He would be executed on a cross for the sins of mankind... and He was. Jesus also said He would come again, not as a sacrificial lamb but as the sky-splitting, earth-shaking Son of God in all His glory. Or as Rev. 17:14 puts it: the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings...In other words, the real deal.