10,000 slices of pizza is a LOT of pizza. They’d fill over 1600 boxes, and if you stacked those boxes one on top of the other it would be taller than a 20 story office building. Wait until you hear why I’m talking about 10,000 slices of pizza.
Before we get to the pizza, welcome to “Mornings with Bishop Robert” — where coffee is always on the menu. My goal is to introduce people to the Jesus they never knew, and help them get to know Him and His word personally – and better ! If our time together today speaks to your heart, then let me invite you to like, subscribe and share it with a friend!
You’ve probably heard the term “Pay It Forward” somewhere, even if you’ve never seen the film. Paying it forward is a simple practice, doing a good deed for a stranger and encouraging them to do the same. It may be as simple as buying a cup of coffee, or paying the bill for the person at the drive through behind you. I know of an eight-year-old boy named Myles who found a $20 bill in the parking lot as he and his mom were heading into a Cracker Barrel restaurant. But instead of sticking it in his pocket, which is probably what I’d do if I found $20 on the ground, he paid it forward by bringing it inside, finding someone who was wearing a veteran’s baseball cap, and giving it to him. Myles explained to a very-surprised retired Army Lieutenant Colonel that his dad had died while in combat in Iraq, and he simply wanted to honor his memory by supporting living veterans.
Well, back to our 10,000 slices of pizza. About ten years ago, a pizza shop opened in Philadelphia named Rosa’a Fresh Pizza. Customers could pay a dollar, write a message on a post-it note and stick it to the wall of the shop. Homeless people were encouraged to come in and exchange the post-it note for a free slice of pizza. I’m told that even with 80 to 100 people a day coming in and grabbing a post-it note for a free slice, the walls were always filled with the colorful pieces of paper. Sadly, economic development and the opening of several higher-end eating establishments caused the pizza shop to close. But its impact remains.
That brings us to today’s verse, which calls Jesus THE LAMB OF GOD, WHO TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD
Under the sacrificial system of the Old Testament, people who wanted to express sorrow for their sin and ask God to forgive them would bring a lamb as a sacrifice to the temple in Jerusalem.
First, they’d begin by making themselves outwardly clean. This involved dunking themselves in one of the many ritual baths that surrounded the temple complex. The steps of the ritual bath actually had a sort of divider in the center. One would walk down the left side of the steps as they entered the bath, remove their clothes and dunk in the water, and then put on a white robe signifying that they had been outwardly cleansed. Then they’d walk up the right side of the steps. (And you thought that John the Baptizer invented baptism!) 🙂
Afterwards, they’d enter the temple with their lamb and bring it to one of the priests as an act of worship. The priest had three important jobs. His first job was to inspect the lamb, which had to be pure and spotless. No blemishes, broken bones or the like. Only a perfect offering was acceptable. Once he was satisfied, the second job was for the priest to offer the sacrifice, acting as the representative of the person to God. He followed a prescribed ritual, in accordance with instructions that God had given Moses. But I believe that job three was the most important. Turning back to the one who brought the sacrifice and sought forgiveness, the priest was now the representative of God Himself to the person. Then, in the name of God, the priest would pronounce that by their actions and their request for forgiveness the person had met God’s requirements; and so they would declare the forgiveness of God for the sins that person had committed.
Here’s the problem – it didn’t work.
Because the law was only a shadow of the good things to come, not the reality; so it could never, by the same sacrifices offered year after year, make perfect those who drew near to worship. All of those sacrifices were just a reminder of our sin, not the final solution. Which brings us back to Jesus, THE LAMB OF GOD, WHO TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD.
Day after day every priest would stand in the temple to minister and to offer again and again the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Jesus, who is our Priest, had offered Himself as the sacrifice for sins, by that single offering He made perfect for all time those who come to Him to be forgiven.
Jesus puts His law – the law of love – in our hearts and inscribes His law on our minds. He Himself is the perfect lamb of God. His offering – once and for all – finishes the task.
Jesus and the cross. The ultimate example of paying it forward.