Escape for the Scapegoat [Part 2]

By Alan Wright — July 16, 2018

Are you ready for some good news?

You’re no Charlie Brown.

Today’s Text: Leviticus 16:10 (ESV) — 10: “… but the goat on which the lot fell for Azazel shall be presented alive before the Lord to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away into the wilderness to Azazel.”

Most Christians are familiar with the lamb’s blood that was shed for the sins of the people. But did you know that there were two goats on the Day of Atonement?

Leviticus 16 describes the ritual of the high, holy Day of Atonement. One goat was sacrificed for the sins of the people. But the other goat remained alive and the priest laid hands on its head and confessed all the wickedness and shame of the nation. Then the scapegoat was sent alone into the wilderness, alive but loaded with the shame of the people.

In an attempt to displace their own shame, people often find a “scapegoat” to blame for all their problems. It might be a middle child or a racial group or a whole nation. Everyone is looking for a Charlie Brown to bear his or her shame.

One of the famous Peanuts’ themes was Charlie Brown trying to kick the football that Lucy was holding. Every year she'd scoop up the ball as Charlie Brown tried to kick it and he go flying up to the air and fall on his rump. As he was drawing towards the close of the comic strip, Charles Schulz was asked, "Is Charlie Brown going to be allowed to kick that football?" He said, "Oh no, that'd be a terrible disservice to let him kick the football now." Why does Charlie Brown keep on trying to kick the football even though it keeps getting scooped away from him? As Charlie Brown himself once said, "I'm not a poor loser, I'm a good loser. I'm so good at it, I lose all the time."

If you’re Peanuts’ lover like I, you sense a deep irony: actually Charlie Brown is not the dumbest kid on the block. In fact he has a sort of intelligence and giftedness that others don't have. He’s sensitive, more mature than the other kids, has a really cool dog, and, after all, his little tree got everyone in touch with the real meaning of Christmas So, why is everybody always picking on Charlie Brown? No reason. He was randomly selected. In the end, he’s the scapegoat because the kids picked him and Charlie Brown agreed with them.

Webster defines “scapegoat” simply as a person who is unfairly blamed for something that others have done. On the Day of Atonement, the scapegoat was laden with the shame of the people and sent to the wilderness for a life of isolation because the people needed two goats: one to pay the penalty for sin and one to bear their shame. Jesus came to be both your lamb that takes away the sin of the world and your scapegoat to bear your shame. You don’t have to be anyone’s scapegoat because Jesus already was. And that’s the Gospel!

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