Bible Reading: Hebrews 10:1-10
The old system in the law of Moses was only a shadow of the things to come, not the reality of the good things Christ has done for us. Hebrews 10:1
Kalli looked puzzled. With her forehead scrunched up and half of her upper lip raised, her whole face curled up in a big question mark. She wasn’t the only one in her Sunday school class looking lost. “Some of this Old Testament stuff is really strange,” she said to her teacher. “I mean, as Christians are we supposed to follow the Old Testament—or not?”
“Well, let’s start with the really big difference,” Mr. Swan suggested. “You’ve probably noticed that Christians don’t follow the Old Testament practice of sacrificing animals to get right with God.”
“Yeah,” she said, nodding. “No one ever told me to bring a pet cow or pigeon to church—and leave it here. But why did God tell people to sacrifice animals? And if animals got people right with God in the Old Testament, why did Jesus have to die?”
Mr. Swan explained that in the Old Testament, people offered grain and birds and animals as acts of worship. A truly special sacrifice happened each year on the Day of Atonement (see Leviticus 23:28). Yet these sacrifices had to be repeated year after year, because they didn’t fully cleanse people from their sin. Worshipers still felt guilty. They knew they needed something more.
Jesus was that “something more.” When Jesus came to earth, he did away with the sacrifices of Old Testament faith by paying the penalty for our sins once and for all.
When Jesus died, he did for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves. As Christians we trust in Jesus as God’s payment for our sins. His death on the cross means we don’t need to please God by trying to be perfect. Or by paying for our sins with our life. Or by shedding the blood of animals.
Sometimes as Christians we wish we could fast forward past the Old Testament and jump straight to Jesus. But the whole Old Testament was written for our instruction (see 1 Corinthians 10:11). And the sacrifices of Old Testament times were a picture of how Jesus would give his life to bring us forgiveness. God used hundreds of years of sacrifices to paint a picture of the awfulness of sin and humankind’s deep need for a real Savior. He must think those are important lessons for us to learn!
TALK: How was Jesus a better sacrifice than animals?
PRAY: God, we’re grateful that your love for us never changes. Thanks for providing Jesus as the perfect and complete sacrifice for our sins.
ACT: Come up with a way to explain to a friend what Old Testament sacrifices have to do with what Jesus did for us.