“You shall take the other ram, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on the head of the ram, and you shall kill the ram and take part of its blood and put it on the tip of the right ear of Aaron and on the tips of the right ears of his sons, and on the thumbs of their right hands and on the great toes of their right feet, and throw the rest of the blood against the sides of the altar. Then you shall take part of the blood that is on the altar, and of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it on Aaron and his garments, and on his sons and his sons’ garments with him. He and his garments shall be holy, and his sons and his sons’ garments with him.” (Exodus 29:19-21)
These instructions are part of a whole chapter’s worth of ritual to consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve God as priests. Their ordination includes bulls, rams and lambs, unleavened bread and cakes, anointing oil, special garments, wine and of course, blood. Blood will cover these priests from head to toe as well as their garments and the altar. When it’s all said and done, these men will be a constant reminder that God brought the people out of Egypt, lives with them and is the Lord their God.
When Jesus was crucified, he was covered with blood from head to toe. His own blood flowed from the thorns on his head and the nails in his hands and feet. Whatever garments they took from him would have been stained by his blood, as would his linen burial cloths. It all makes sense. He is our great high priest. He delivers his people from sin, death and the power of the devil. He is our Lord and our God. The picture from Exodus comes into sharper focus at the end of each of the gospels.
I believe most of us think of “God with us,” in a much cleaner way. But the bloody mess of both the priestly ordination and the crucifixion show us the other side of Emmanuel. It’s a side where the sights and smells of sacrifice and offering define what it’s like to have the Lord in your neighborhood.
Lord, thank you for the blood which shows us who you will be one day, my great high priest. In your name. Amen.