I wonder if you sometimes harbour feelings of guilt or condemnation for things you have done or perhaps things you have left undone? Or perhaps it’s not so much wrong actions you struggle with, but wrong thoughts that you can’t stop thinking about? Maybe you feel that you have sinned too many times to be forgiven again.

The book of Leviticus describes the sacrifices that the Israelites were to make for their sins. Numerous times in the Old Testament, we read the words that the sacrifice had to be, ‘without defect.’ The important thing was that the sacrifice being presented was without defect or blemish.

When a person brought a lamb to be sacrificed to the temple the priests would examine the lamb. They would not examine the person bringing the lamb. It was a foregone conclusion that the person bringing the lamb was a sinner, that’s why they were there. But the priests had to check to make sure the lamb was without defect. If the lamb fulfilled the requirements of the law, then it would be an acceptable sacrifice for sin.

Likewise, our acceptance with God has nothing to do with whether we are worthy, it’s a foregone conclusion that we are not. Our acceptance is based on how worthy our sacrifice is. And since Jesus is our sacrifice, the only question we have to ask is, whether Jesus is worthy? If he is worthy then we are forgiven. It’s not about our performance, not about whether we measure up, not about how many times we have asked for forgiveness. God isn’t looking to see if we are good enough, rather he is looking at Jesus – our complete and perfect sacrifice.

In Revelation chapter 5 we read:
“And they sang a new song, saying:
‘You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased for God
persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.’” (Revelation 5:9-10 NIV).

The worthiness of the lamb is vital, and it’s right to sing about it because his worthiness means, we are forgiven.*

Let’s pray:

Thank you Jesus, that you are worthy. You are the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Today as we think of your sacrifice, we remember that because you are worthy, we are forgiven of all our sin – past, present and future.

Thank you for the bread which reminds us of your body broken for us. And thank you for the cup which reminds us of your blood, shed that we might have new life in you. A new life of freedom from guilt, shame and condemnation. A new life empowered by your Spirit.

We are your grateful people,

*With thanks to Matthew Jacoby who drew my attention to this aspect of the Jewish sacrificial system.

For other communion talks click here.