Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Scapegoat & Good Friday

In our society, it seems it is always someone else’s fault when things go wrong. It is hard for many people to admit fault when relationships go bad or organizations experience difficult times. Taking personal responsibility is not easy. Dr. David Hawkins, director of the Marriage Recovery Center, writes, “Shifting the blame is the oldest tactic known to humankind for avoiding taking responsibility for our actions. While shifting the blame may seem innocuous enough, it is deadly.. This action is called scapegoating.

There is an organization in England, the Scapegoat Society that serves as a resource both for people who have experienced being a scapegoat and for people working professionally to resolve scapegoat problems. Scapegoating is found in all walks of life.

The origin of the term scapegoat is found in the Old Testament. The biblical scapegoat is a powerful image of Jesus taking away the sins of the world. The scapegoat is described in Leviticus 16:5–10:

“He [Aaron] shall take from the congregation of the sons of Israel two male goats for a sin offering and one ram for a burnt offering. Then Aaron shall offer the bull for the sin offering which is for himself, that he may make atonement for himself and for his household. He shall take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the doorway of the tent of meeting. Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for the scapegoat. Then Aaron shall offer the goat on which the lot for the Lord fell, and make it a sin offering. But the goat on which the lot for the scapegoat fell shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make atonement upon it, to send it into the wilderness as the scapegoat. He shall make atonement for the holy place, because of the impurities of the sons of Israel and because of their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and thus he shall do for the tent of meeting which abides with them in the midst of their impurities. When he finishes atoning for the holy place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall offer the live goat. Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and he shall lay them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who stands in readiness.”


The iniquities and transgressions of all Israel were laid on the head of the scapegoat. Aaron spoke and confessed over the goat all the iniquities and transgressions. Aaron spoke to the goat, and he touched the goat. Clearly, the scapegoat is a foreshadowing of the crucifixion of Jesus. On the cross Jesus carried on his body all the iniquities and sin of humankind. God could not look at Jesus, the sin-bearer. For the first time in the relationship between Jesus and his heavenly Father there was a separation. Perfect communion was broken and Jesus cried, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Jesus had become the scapegoat in the wilderness, bearing not his sin, but the sin of all humanity. He was totally alone in the wilderness!

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