Grace For The Cure (Leviticus 1:1-9)

It’s always sad to see the Christmas season go. We love to celebrate the Gift God gave us. He sent His Son, born that man no more may die. God did not come because He was curious to see what we were up to or because He was bored of heaven. He came on a life-saving mission, to bring a cure we all need.

Today, we talk about racing to find the cure. Usually there are actual runs you can be a part of to raise money for research teams. There’s the race to find a cure for cancer, the race to cure arthritis. The Michael J. Fox foundation has teams that race to cure Parkinson’s. In 2015 journalists reported on the race to cure Ebola. Now, of course, it’s the Coronavirus. All worthy endeavors. But, for all the thousands of years of human history, we’ve made no progress on the plague called sin. It’s the reason for all the death in this universe, all the suffering, all the hatred and violence and sorrow.

Humanity has tried many ways to deal with this affliction. We’ve tried to legislate it away. We’ve tried ignoring it or just accepting it. But, the world is just as sick as ever. That’s because for this problem, there’s only one cure and it has to come from someone who isn’t infected.

There’s a rare condition called Diamond-Blackfan anemia. It’s a blood disease that a person is born with. While some of the short term effects can be treated for a time with blood transfusions, there is only one cure: A full bone marrow transplant from an uncontaminated donor.

Christ came to die so that we could have our sins dealt with and forgiven. That was always the plan, from eternity past. In the centuries leading up to Christ’s arrival, God interacted with His people in ways that demonstrated and foreshadowed what the Messiah would do. It wasn’t only an object lesson, it was also a way that sin could be temporarily dealt with, not unlike how people buy things on credit with the payment being made later. Or how those suffering from Diamond-Blackfan anemia receive blood transfusions to forestall the inevitable outcome of their disease. God established the sacrificial system that we read about in the Old Testament. It’s sometimes called the Levitical Law or the Law of Moses. In this system, man was able to stay in relationship with God, personally and nationally, through a code of holiness and animal sacrifice. It wasn’t the sacrifice that saved a person – it’s impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin. God has always saved by grace, through faith. But as believers participated in this arrangement, they were able to temporarily cover their sin, looking forward to the final work God would do when He sent His Son to, once for all, pay the penalty for sin and cleanse us of our unrighteousness.

The Book of Exodus ends with the Israelites completing the construction of a tent where God would dwell among them called the Tabernacle. Now, God was ready to give them the prescription that they might treat their sinful condition and stay in relationship with Him. And He begins it all with the burnt offering. This was when a person would offer an animal on the altar of God as a propitiation for their sin. Meaning, it was given to turn away God’s wrath against your sin, so that it would fall on that offering and you, the giver, would be reconciled to God.

This burnt offering, like the rest of the sacrifices in the Tabernacle, spoke of Christ and the work He would finish on your behalf. So, as we study these verses, we should always see them in the context of God’s love for us and His giving of Jesus Christ so that we could be made right with Him.

Leviticus 1:1 – Then the Lord summoned Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting:

This may sound official and demanding, but in reality it reveals how concerned God is for the people of earth. He came down to their level. He was willing to allow His glory to take up residence in their little tent. I’m not much of a tent camper. I think mattresses and indoor plumbing are much more enjoyable. Some of you have spent time in the third world or disaster areas. I doubt that, while you were there, you thought, “Let’s vacation here next year!” Or, “Let’s move here!” But God is so full of love and compassion for us that He came to us. He called to us. He was the One that suggested this Tabernacle, where the people could interact with Him and be blessed by Him. But, that great compassion doesn’t mean that God makes Himself less holy. Not in the slightest. Instead, He makes a way for us to be made right in His presence. That’s what Leviticus is all about. It’s what the work of Jesus is all about: Reconciling ruined man to a perfect God.

J.A. Seiss reminds us that, in the Tabernacle, God spoke from the mercy seat. Though the Tabernacle is long gone, the Lord still speaks from His throne of mercy. And He speaks to you. He calls out to you. First by the testimony of creation. Then through the specific revelation of the Bible, which God has inspired, protected, and delivered so that you might know Him and how great His love is for you. The Holy Spirit is calling, too, drawing you to God and guiding you to the truth.

God is calling to each one of us today. Sometimes, a problem arises and people advise you to “call your congressman” or, “file a complaint with corporate.” There’s usually very little reaction when we do. But consider what we’re seeing: The God who made heaven and earth, He sees the problem and He came to us with the solve. His fix for our failure.

Leviticus 1:2 – 2 “Speak to the Israelites and tell them: When any of you brings an offering to the Lord from the livestock, you may bring your offering from the herd or the flock.

In Exodus 20, after the Israelites had heard the Ten Commandments and seen God’s power, they said to Moses, “You speak to us and we’ll listen, but don’t let God speak to us!” Moses’ response to them was that they didn’t need to be afraid, but they withdrew. Even still, God’s care for them did not flag. He was a Gentleman. He calls to Moses and says, “Please give this message to My people.” And He begins to talk to them about a set of offerings.

For this sacrifice the people would bring an animal from their flocks of sheep or herds of cattle. And, even here, we see the grace of God. Yes, it would be costly for them to hand over a bull or a sheep, but these were animals that were readily available to all of Israel. He didn’t say, “You’re going to have to bring me a snow leopard or a humpback whale.” That seems silly, but He could have demanded that. Instead, He selects something that was right at their fingertips.

You see, God wants to reconcile people to Himself. He wants to have a relationship with each of us. He wants to bear away our sins. He is a Physician who desires to cure our terminal, spiritual disease.

But, the offering had to be voluntary and made with something of your own. You couldn’t trap a gopher on the way. It was your animal.

As we’ve been learning in the Gospel of John, Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world. God didn’t find some poor sap by the wayside and offer them on the cross. He gave His only begotten Son.

Notice who His offer is made to: “any of you.” It didn’t matter if they were male or female, rich or poor, important or unknown. Everyone was invited. The same is true today. Jesus once cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me, and drink.” And in Revelation 22, the Holy Spirit says, “Let the one who is thirsty come. Let the one who desires take the water of life freely.”

If you would be forgiven of your sin and made whole, you only need to come to Jesus in obedience and faith. As J. Vernon McGee says, “none are excluded expect those who exclude themselves.” God doesn’t keep people out of heaven. He’s trying to keep you out of hell!

Leviticus 1:3 – 3 “If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he is to bring an unblemished male. He will bring it to the entrance to the tent of meeting so that he may be accepted by the Lord.

Only a perfect sacrifice was acceptable. You can’t clean a muddy spot with a muddy rag. This stipulation was highlighting the fact that the Messiah would have to be absolutely perfect in every way – and Jesus is. He was without sin, without deceit. When He was insulted, He did not insult in return. He never erred, never failed, never came up short. Because of His perfection, He is the acceptable, final substitute for all mankind. You see, the Israelites had to make these offerings again and again. It was a transfusion, not a transplant. But, Jesus paid it all, once for all.

The Israelites were to bring a particular offering to a particular place. No DIY option when it comes to salvation. We must come on God’s terms, otherwise our effort is unacceptable. We’re familiar with “acceptable forms of identification.” This is “acceptable form of propitiation,” and there’s only one. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” And God the Father agreed. He said, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”

And the only acceptable offering was death. It would do no good to bring gold. You couldn’t leave promises to “do better” on the altar. No double-or-nothing bets that the rest of your life would be lived perfectly. There had to be a life-for-life substitute. Because without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. That’s how serious sin is. It’s easy for us to be very casual about sin. But sin is no piddling thing. We tend to think of it as a little water spill on the floor. Not that big of a deal, easily dealt with. Or just leave it and it’ll dry on its own. Back in 2014, lab personnel found 6 “forgotten” vials of smallpox in a cardboard box in Washington. What if the spill is small pox? Then we’re a little more concerned, right? That’s what sin is. It is the deadliest thing in the world and it is the natural byproduct of the human heart. This is why the Messiah had to die. But, when you accept Jesus as your Savior and Substitute, in Him you have redemption through His blood.

Leviticus 1:4 – 4 He is to lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering so it can be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him.

You may have heard some different explanations of what this word “atonement” means. It can mean the process through which you are made at-one-with God. It is also a term that can speak of your sin being covered. It can also mean the “wiping away” of your impurity. And, while the priests did offer burnt offerings daily, weekly, and monthly in a general sense for the nation, what we’re talking about here is a personal, voluntary choice to go to God for forgiveness. And we see here just how personal it was. The offerer would bring forward his splendid animal, healthy and strong, full of life. And there, at the altar, he would place his hand on the head, symbolically recognizing that this innocent animal was going to die for something the offerer was guilty of.

Of course, the sheep and bulls had no say in it, but Jesus did. He did not have to do what He did. But He went willingly to the cross, enduring the shame and the horrors of that suffering for the joy that was set before Him – you and me. His love for you is so great He laid down His own life for you.

Leviticus 1:5-6 – 5 He is to slaughter the bull before the Lord; Aaron’s sons the priests are to present the blood and splatter it on all sides of the altar that is at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 6 Then he is to skin the burnt offering and cut it into pieces.

‘He is to slaughter,’ meaning the offerer, not the priests. When you brought your animal in, you laid your hand on, then you cut its throat and you butchered it down yourself. What a sober experience this must have been. Last week, we had to put down our beloved, old cat. I’d rate the experience 0 stars. I was there, but, thankfully, I didn’t have to do the job. I can’t imagine having to perform this sacrificial task again and again and again, knowing each time that it was happening, not because the animal was sick or hurt or old, but that my sin was the cause of all this suffering and death.

It was your sin which nailed Jesus to the cross, yours and mine. Like these burnt offerings, He was an innocent victim. But our trespasses were put on Him so we might become righteous.

Leviticus 1:7 – 7 The sons of Aaron the priest will prepare a fire on the altar and arrange wood on the fire.

Once the Levitical system was established this fire on the altar was never put out. It was to be kept continually burning. Jesus is now our High Priest. He is always ready to receive you. He is always ready to be your atonement – to make you right with God and cleanse you of your sin. All you have to do is come to Him. You don’t have to bring a bull or a lamb. Just your heart and your faith.

Romans 10:9-10 – If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.

Leviticus 1:8-9 – 8 Aaron’s sons the priests are to arrange the pieces, the head, and the fat on top of the burning wood on the altar. 9 The offerer is to wash its entrails and legs with water. Then the priest will burn all of it on the altar as a burnt offering, a food offering, a pleasing aroma to the Lord.

How could something so bloody and terrible be a “pleasing aroma to the Lord?” It’s not the death that He was happy about, it was the dealing with sin and the restoration of relationship between God and man. God the Father loves His Son. He wasn’t happy to see Him suffer. Yet He was pleased to crush Him as a guilt offering so that we might have a chance to be saved.

We see in this offering a specificity. A certain place, certain types of animals, a certain way of breaking the offering down and washing it and arranging it. It speaks to us of the fact that this spiritual work is not haphazard. You couldn’t just throw a pile of guts around and call that “atonement.” God was the only One who could solve the sin problem, and His way is the only way. Not our own spin on it, not what makes sense for today, but His way, revealed in Scripture. For the Jews, it was this system which looked forward to the final sacrifice made by the Messiah Himself. For us, the sacrificial work is finished. Now we look back in faith to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Perfect, Spotless Lamb of God. If you want to be cured of your sin and live a life in right standing before God, freed from guilt and ruin, this is the only way.

In 2002 Katie Trebing was born with Diamond-Blackfan anemia. Within hours she needed a transfusion or she would die. She would need them again and again to put off death for a little while longer. But, in the end, the treatment wouldn’t be able to save her. There was only one hope: a bone marrow transplant. But Katie’s older brother wasn’t a match. So, Katie’s father and mother decided to have another child. And in 2005 Christopher Trebing was born. Katie’s mom said, “He was always smiling, never cranky … the perfect baby.” A year later, the transplant happened. And in 2007 Katie was taken off all medications and declared cured by her doctors. She needed to become new inside and she did because someone else gave themself to her.

Jesus Christ was born to die. That was the only way that people could be saved from sin and restored to God. But, just like we see in this Old Testament system, it was not something forced upon people. It was a free invitation. All the work has been done. The way has been paved by the blood of Jesus. Will you go to Him and receive all He wants to give?

For those of us who are saved, we need not worry that His atoning work will wear off or that He will forget our names are written in His Book of Life. And, thankfully, we no longer need to bring bulls or rams to slaughter in His house. Instead we can bask in His finished work of atonement and enjoy His ongoing work of sanctification in our lives as we stay near to Him, following as He leads, this God who loves us so much.

Peacemeal (Leviticus 19v1-2,5-6)

A lot of us probably found ourselves at a barbecue on Monday night for 4th of July.

Get-togethers like that are always interesting in one regard, because, of course, the polite thing to do if you’re attending someone’s home is to offer to bring something. That’s sort of our casual, barbecue culture. And, I’ll tell you, the hardest thing to bring, the assignment you don’t want to get is soda. When someone says, “Oh bring some soda,” you’re in trouble. Because soda loyalties run deep. If you bring Mr. Pibb over to a Dr. Pepper house, you’re in for it.

But, the problem is, you’re standing there in the soda aisle at the store, and there’s just a wall of options for you. There’s like dozens of sodas. Do you bring cans? Do you bring 2 liters? Do you bring diet AND regular? Do you bring Pepsi-Cola or Coca-Cola? Do you get like a 5 gallon thing of Shasta for like 39 cents or 4 single bottles of root-beer that cost 8 dollars? It’s just a mess. But you’ve got to show up with something. It’s your offering for the party and it’s something you and the other guests are going to enjoy together.

Turn with me if you will, over to the book of Leviticus, chapter 19. There’s a simple devotional here I’d like for us to think about tonight. Now, Leviticus can be a little scary to us. At least it is to me! Because we’re not Jews. And the Mosaic Law that the people of Israel were under does not apply to us today. And so, it can be hard for us to really grab hold of some of these things since they’re so far removed from our own culture and tradition.

However, there are commands and principles given in the Mosaic Law that are repeated in the New Testament, which we’ll see in a moment. But more than that, even in a legal book like this one, we’re able to see God revealing His heart and His nature to us and demonstrating how much He wants to reach out to you and me and the people of the earth.

But look there at the first two verses of Leviticus chapter 19, where it says:

Leviticus 19.1-2 – And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.”

That phrase is probably familiar to most of us because that is a command that continues over into the New Testament and the Church age. In fact, we’re given this command as Christians a number of times. Peter repeats it verbatim in 1 Peter 1.15-16. Paul says it in Ephesians 1, verse 4. Also, in Hebrews we read this:

Hebrews 12.14 – Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.

So it’s safe to say that this idea is pretty important. But I think this is one of those areas that we don’t always have a great handle on. We’ve heard about how the word ‘holy’ means ‘set apart’ or ‘sanctified’, but I know for myself that this idea of holiness often gets reduced down to simply personal purity. Avoiding sin. And, while that is an important part of what God intends for us when He says, “Be holy for I am holy,” there’s a lot more there for us to understand. There’s a lot more grace and goodness and abundance from God included in this command.

And that’s what’s so great about Leviticus 19. Because God, speaking to His people, opens up this chapter and says, “BE HOLY!” And then He explains some of the different ways that we do that. If you read through those following verses you see the Lord talking about holiness in our family relationships and in our worship practices. How we’re to view possessions and the way we talk to others. How we work and plant and harvest. How we interact with the poor. And you see all this stuff and really quickly realize that this holiness we’re called to as God’s people is an all-encompassing lifestyle and mindset. It’s not just about avoiding the lust of the eyes. There’s a lot more to it.

There’s one facet to holiness that I want to look at in verses 5 and 6. There we read:

Leviticus 19.5-6 – And if you offer a sacrifice of a peace offering to the Lord, you shall offer it of your own free will. It shall be eaten the same day you offer it, and on the next day. And if any remains until the third day, it shall be burned in the fire.

So, in regard to living a life that is holy, God talks about what is known as the peace offering.

Under Levitical Law there were a number of different offerings. The sin offering, the burnt offering, the trespass offering, the meal offering and the peace offering. All of them were representative of Christ in His sacrifice for us, but of course, they also had benefits for the person bringing the offering.

Again, I know at least I am prone to culturally or subconsciously think of animal sacrifices as appeasing an angry god. But that’s not what these were about. Sacrifices didn’t save you. They provided atonement and demonstrated your submission so that relationship between God and man could be made right. God’s grace saved you, through faith, and then offerings were brought in response to God so that man could have right standing before Him. It was a relational thing. Which is why we’re still invited in the New Testament Church Age to present offerings to God. Sacrifices of praise, offerings of time and talent and treasure.

Romans 12.1 – I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

It’s about our relationship to God. And here in Leviticus, as God calls His people to be holy, He talks to them about the peace offering.

Now, the peace offering was a little different than some of the others. For example, there weren’t as many restrictions on it. It could be a bull, a sheep, a goat, a male or a female. It was still to be without spot or blemish. But what you would do is bring your peace offering, which would be butchered down, then the best part of the animal, the richest, most prized portion, would be burned up on the altar. That went to God. The shoulder and the breast went to the priest and then the rest was for you and your family to eat together. You had a joyous, sacred picnic. Because the peace offering was a sacrifice of gratitude and praise to God. But, in response to that gratitude and praise, the Lord then poured back blessing and provision to you. It’s really a beautiful thing.

I hear the term ‘peace offering’ and I immediately starting thinking that it means a person has to ‘make peace with God’ before they get melted by His wrath. But that’s not what this was about.

Here’s what Bible commentator J.A. Seiss says about this term:

“The word ‘peace’ in the language of the Scriptures, has a shade of meaning not commonly attached to it in ordinary use. With most persons it signifies a cessation of hostilities…the absence of disturbance. But in the Scriptures it means more. Its predominant import there is prosperity, welfare, joy, happiness.”

“We may therefore confidently take the peace-offering as a joyous festival, a solemn sacrificial banqueting, illustrative of the peace and joy which flows to believers from the atoning work of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

So the Lord comes to His people and says, “Be holy because I am holy,” and then one of the ways He gives us to do that is by bringing a sacrifice of gratitude and having a picnic with Him.

It reminds me of one of Jesus’ more famous miracles. It’s recorded in all 4 Gospels. We’ll read it in John chapter 6. Jesus feeds the 5,000. But, as we read this, think about the peace offering.

It’s 13 verses, so you can follow along as I read it aloud.

John 6.1-13 – After these things Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased. And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples.
Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near. Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do.
Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.”
One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?”
Then Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted. So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.” Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.

To me, that’s a great representation of the peace offering. Jesus was there in a deserted place, teaching the people and sharing about the Kingdom of God and healing the sick. And then, this young boy comes to them and says, “Here. Take my loaves. Take my fish. I know it’s nothing in this sea of people, but You can have it.” That which was most valuable and tender and important was given to the Lord. And then, in return, Jesus poured out to the people and they had a meal together.

And as we look at what the peace offering was and then read this famous story and sort of compare the two, it starts to help me understand more of what holiness is about. Not just avoiding sin, though that is essential, but understanding more the relationship of holiness. I hear that word and I immediately think of the phrase ‘set apart’, but these texts together are starting to help me think of my personal holiness as being about setting myself before God. Because what God is looking for is our submission, yes, but He’s also looking to just sit and have a meal with us. Look at the peace offering. Think about how Jesus instituted communion. Or verses like Revelation 3:20:

Revelation 3.20 –  Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

That’s the kind of relationship that Jesus keeps referencing. Even back in Leviticus. He says, “BE HOLY! For I am holy!” And then He explains how to do that and one of the ways is to bring this peace offering. Where you came and honored God for what He’s done and had a little picnic with Him.

So this is what God wants. And we’re confident in that. All over the Scriptures we see this same idea presented again and again. God having meals with Abraham and meals in the Tabernacle. Jesus having the Last Supper with His disciples and a meal with the 2 believers walking on the road to Emmaus. There’s a wedding banquet in heaven when the Church is finally reunited with the Lord. And God is revealing over and over to us that He’s not an angry deity that must be appeased, but an intimate Savior and Friend who really wants to spend time with you.

But we’ve got to figure out how we apply what we’ve seen here. How do we get ourselves into this kind of holiness? How do we reciprocate what God has done?

First, let’s think about our verses in Leviticus.

Leviticus 19.5-6 – And if you offer a sacrifice of a peace offering to the Lord, you shall offer it of your own free will. It shall be eaten the same day you offer it, and on the next day. And if any remains until the third day, it shall be burned in the fire.

Remember, the peace offering was a voluntary offering. It was given of your own free will. And it was to be a sacrifice of gratitude and praise to the Lord for what He’s done.

And that ministered to me because often I’m thankful to the Lord for what He’s done in my life and what He’s doing. But I realized that that thankfulness doesn’t always lead me to worship or to sacrifice. And, of course, the Lord loves a thankful heart. I’m not knocking that. But I had to ask myself if my gratitude for what God does in my life ever moves me into voluntary action? To go back to our party analogy at the beginning of our study, it’s not a great one, but since the Lord has opened up a spot for me at His party, am I willing to bring anything? Accepting the invitation is one thing, saying “What can I bring?” is another. God has invited me to be a part of His family and now I have the opportunity to bring something to honor Him, bless Him and bless others. But I’m free to not do that as well. And it’s a challenging thing for me to ask myself what I’ve set before God in response to the blessing and the salvation He’s given to me. Am I living out Romans 12 verse 1 or have I kept my life off the altar and off the cross?

Second, there in Leviticus, the sacrifice was to be eaten. And it was to be a joyous, celebratory thing. The question that arises there is: Am I enjoying my relationship with God? Because that’s what He wants. He wants us to have joy. And so, if I find a lack of enjoyment, a lack of excitement, a lack of cheer in my Christianity, then something’s wrong. Because that’s not what God intends. And I need to figure out where that holy relationship has weakened or broken down and allow the Lord can repair it. Because God wants us to enjoy our relationship with Him right now!

And then, third in Leviticus, there was to be a quick participation in this specific meal. When you brought your peace offering, the Lord said, “Hey, let’s do this right now! Let’s spend time together right now.” There was a window of interaction that closed after 3 days.

And as we see the Christian life described in the Bible, we learn that the Lord brings us opportunities to worship or to offer something to Him or to do a work for Him or to hear what He’s speaking to us, and those opportunities will pass. There’s a time where God comes to us and says, “Now is the time to enter this land.” And we can miss it. Not in the sense that we’d lose our salvation or ruin our lives or anything like that. But there are specific moments that God presents before you for worship or ministry or learning, and if we’re not paying attention, if we’re distracted, or if we’re too self-centered to set our lives before Him, then we will miss much of the goodness and blessing that God wants to pour out to us.

That’s why the feeding of the 5,000 is so great. This kid coming to Jesus with some meager lunch, but saying, “Take it. I want you to have this. I just want to be with You and honor You for what You’ve taught and all the miracles You’ve been working.” And in response to that response, Jesus has a meal with them. And what’s interesting is that we saw in John 6, verse 6, that Jesus knew what He was going to do, but He waited so that He could give an opportunity for the people to be involved. One person set himself before Jesus and then this incredible miracle was performed. The Lord waits to see if we open our lives to Him.

And this is a type of your life and my life. All throughout the Bible God explains to us that His desire is to do incredible things in the lives of His people. His desire is to bring incredible transformation and use us to impact the lives of other people all over the world. He has gifts and opportunities and callings and empowerings for us. But He waits to see if we will sit down to dinner with Him. He waits to see what we’re offering to Him. Because He will let us keep our 5 loaves and 2 fish to ourselves, because He’s gracious. But if we’re willing to buy into this idea of holiness that God talks about in Leviticus, if we’re willing to act in response to who He is and what He’s done, then remarkable things will happen in us and through us.

But it’s the response we need to wrestle with in our lives. Because having a thankful heart is one thing (and it’s a good thing). Being in the presence of Jesus is one thing. Responding to Jesus and what He’s given to us is something else. That’s what makes a believer a disciple.

So, tonight, I invite each of us to just pray for a few minutes, evaluating our personal holiness. Because holiness in God’s eyes is an active interaction as we set our lives before Him and He then pours out His will and His power on us. And we should ask the Lord to do something with the sacrifice of our lives. We’re not looking for an experience, but we’re looking for the intimacy that God talks about again and again in His word. So let’s take a moment to submit ourselves to God and allow Him to set our lives apart. And then let’s spend the rest of our night worshiping Him for who He is and what He’s done for us.

Because God loves you and He wants to do something in your life. Maybe you think your life is meager. Maybe you feel like your life is 5 stale loaves of bread and 2 desert-temperature fish. But Jesus can take your life and impact thousands of people. Millions of people have been ministered to because this kid was willing to donate his lunch and have a picnic with Jesus. Because he set himself before the Lord. So, let’s recognize what God has done on our behalf, submit ourselves to His rule and then offer our lives as a willing sacrifice to whatever He desires. And let’s just spend some time with Him. Because that’s what He wants, and we want what He wants.