“Bring the bull to the front of the Tent of Meeting, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on its head. Slaughter it in the Lord’s presence at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. Take some of the bull’s blood and put it on the horns of the altar with your finger, and pour out the rest of it at the base of the altar.” —Exodus 29:10-12
Not a pretty picture, this verse. The bleating of a bull being bound against its will. The brutal butchering with a knife. Dipping hands into the warm blood. What a gory and offensive scene. The bloody slaughter of the sacrificial animal was not even carried out behind the Tend of Meeting, hidden from view, but in the front for everyone to see.
Other ancient cultures employed animal sacrifices, but only in Israel was the blood of a sacrificial animal central in worship. Leviticus 17:11 reminds us that “It is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.”
The shedding of blood is the “dirty work” of salvation. Just as there was nothing pretty about Old Testament sacrifices, the shedding of blood sealing the New Covenant was just as offensive. The brutal crucifixion of Christ was not hidden from the view of men but on a hill in broad daylight for all to see.
In the Old Testament, the worshiper, who with hands placed on the head of the living animal saw it killed and its blood sprinkled, was being graphically shown that sin called for the surrender of a life. When we look at the cross, we discover a graphic picture of what remission of our sin demands – the surrender of the Lamb of God.
Lord Jesus, show me the offense of my sin when I look at the crown of thorns, Your pierced hands and feet, and bruised body. My guilt and sin must truly be awful to demand such a precious price as that of Your blood.