READ: Leviticus 16:1-17
Atonement is a concept that can seem strange to us. It means, “to make reconciliation.” Someone once described it to me this way: to atone means to become at one with God.
Under Israel’s sacrificial system, the high priest – in this instance Aaron – went through an elaborate ceremony to reconcile the wayward children of Israel to God. First, he took a sacred bath. Then he dressed in the priestly garments. He had to bring animals with him, too: a bull, a ram and two goats.
These animals were sacrificed following specific, sacred instructions. Three animals were slaughtered; one was taken into the wilderness and released. The blood of the slaughtered animals was sprinkled on different sacred objects in the tabernacle. It was all highly structured and rigidly applied.
Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is so incredible because it put an end to all of that. We no longer have to bring animals with us when we come to worship God. We don’t have to go through a priest to connect with our heavenly Father. We can come directly to God because Jesus’ sacrifice gave us an all-access pass.
Hebrews 10:22 says, “For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.” We don’t need the blood of bulls or rams or goats to make a way for us to come to God.
Jesus’ blood is all we need.