Sunday, March 08, 2015

Lent 3

Leviticus 16 - the Day of Atonement.  Two goats, one for the LORD, and one for Azazel.  One to be killed as a sin offering, the other to be taken away into the wilderness and released.

Mark 1:9-13 - Jesus is baptized and then tempted.  In the river, he goes symbolically down into death, and the Spirit drives him out into the wilderness.

I take it that the dead goat points to the need for the sinner to die.  In his baptism, Jesus signals that he himself will fulfil this sign.  He identifies with sinners, and will die for sinners.  Unlike the goat, his encounter with death will end with his triumph in the resurrection, symbolised his emergence from the water of baptism.

The live goat seems to symbolise primarily the removal of the sin of Israel.  Their sin is taken away into the wilderness - to Azazel,  A demon?  So tradition has interpreted the passage.  Certainly the wilderness was considered the haunt of demons in some sense.  Jesus is driven into the wilderness, as the goat was driven away from Israel.  Unlike the goat, he takes on and defeats the devil in his own domain.  He not only bears away the sin of his people, but he responds to temptation to win with perfect righteousness.

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