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Aaron’s Sacrifice First for His Own Sin
Here is Aaron, as one of the old Brethren writers observed, “ministering as high priest of the Jewish confession. It was the inauguration of the priesthood in full standing. Accordingly Aaron and his sons offered the calf as Sin-offering for himself, putting of its blood presented by his sons on the horns of the altar and the rest at its base, and burning the fat and the kidneys and the net above the liver on the altar; but the flesh and the skin without the camp as prescribed. But nothing is said here, as in Leviticus 8:14, of laying their hands on its head, though there is the same witness borne to Christ’s sacrifice in the acceptance of the inwards as holy and precious on the altar, but the body reduced to ashes without as identified with sin. His work explains the seeming inconsistency but bright witness, that though he knew no sin, God made him sin for us.”
Christ Our Priest
This is precisely the way God the Holy Ghost states the matter in Hebrews 7:27, when he shows us the superiority of Christ’s priesthood, — “Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.”
Our dear Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, was made flesh (John 1:14) that he might be made sin for us. He became a man that he might bare our sin in his own body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24). When he was made sin for us, the Lord Jesus owned our sins as his own because they were made his (Psalm 40:12; 2 Corinthians 5:21). When our sins became his, the Lord Jesus Christ, being a real and perfect Substitute, we are told, offered “up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.”
This he did that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. Now, child of God, try to grasp this great wonder: — All for who Christ was made sin are made the righteousness of God in him. His righteousness is our righteousness (Revelation 19:8). We own it as ours by faith in our Savior because it really is ours (Psalm 4:1). The Lord Jesus, as the Lord Our Righteousness, as our Mediator and Representative, was first rewarded for his perfect righteousness which he performed and accomplished for us by his obedience unto death (Isaiah 53:10-12). Then, in the end, the triune Jehovah shall reward us for that perfect righteousness, that perfect obedience to God, that is ours in him, saying to every chosen, redeemed, heaven-born sinner saved by his matchless, free grace, — “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).
That is the gospel doctrine of Substitution in which we rejoice. Our all-glorious Christ is a real substitute. The gospel of God proclaims real substitution. I repeat what I have said to you many times. I repeat it often because it is a matter of great joy and needs to be understood. — God doesn’t play pretend. He really did make his Son sin for sinners that he might really make sinners righteous, that he might be “a just God and a Savior.” Yes, our Lord Jesus is for us a real substitute. God did not pretend to make him sin, pretend to kill him, or pretend to make us righteous. He really did it all for the praise of his own glory and the everlasting salvation of our souls.