In the Old Testament, there was a particular act the priests performed yearly, using a goat. The High Priest would pray and lay the sins of the people upon this goat, which was then taken far off into the wilderness to become lost, so their sins could not return to them. This act, performed by the Israelites on the Day of Atonement to the Israelites meant their sins were removed, and they had a fresh new start.
Move forward the 18th & 19th century to the British Isles, and an unusual ritual that began to be put into practice, seemingly stemming from the Day of Atonement of old mixed with that of communion:
A sin-eater was a community member upon whom the unconfessed sins of the dead were placed, through eating bread laid upon or waved over the recently deceased. Sometimes a beverage was included in this ritual.
This sin-eater didn’t make a lot of money from stepping into this role, and had quite a difficult time in the communities they lived in. They were not usually welcome in the local church, and also carried the belief that they would become more “evil” with the weight of the sins they carried.
Humanity has a history of missing the point, don’t we?
Putting the sins of humanity on a goat once a year led people to take sin lightly, knowing they could send it off again at the next ceremony.
Putting their sins on another person right after death seemingly absolved people of the responsibility for their own actions.
Both involved condemning someone to death, one literally, the other figuratively.
Both missed the big picture.
Humanity cannot carry the weight of its own sin & failures.
If it could, God wouldn’t have let Jesus come to earth to die on the cross, because it wouldn’t have been necessary.
A wise, holy & just God wouldn’t be led like a lamb to the slaughter unless there was no other way.
Because humanity messed up so much, He sent a Saviour to spiritually set us straight.
Once & for all.
When we believe He did so, accept we did wrong & humbly bend the knee before Him, asking for His forgiveness, He takes the weight of our sin from our shoulder & reminds us it was paid for at the cross.
A goat cannot offer you the same, nor can another person. Neither has it in them to make things right with God .
For that requires an act of God.
Found only in Jesus.
We take part in communion to physically & visually remember what He has spiritually done for us, not because its a ritual to observe.
His body was crushed for us, our sins, on road leading to & brutally on the Cross.
His blood spilled to show us the lavish love God was & is pouring out on the world he so adores.
There is only One who can take away the sins of the world, and he didn’t have to eat it to do so. He bought it at the highest price and at great personal cost. Only Jesus.
Carrying the weight of your sin?
- Come to the Cross.
- Admit the cost.
- Bend the knee.
- Gaze upon His face as He stands before you, alive, whole, fully majestic God.
- Accept His gift of freedom from wrong, and a new slate.
Fresh grace, from the Only One who can bestow it:
The Last One to Defeat Sin.
PS. I learned about this unusual practice through a Christian movie entitled the Last Sin Eater, where this practice has been brought to North America through Welsh immigrants.