The significance of a scapegoat
Have you ever heard of the word “scapegoat?” When a person has become the scapegoat in a situation, they have either willingly or unwillingly positioned themselves to take the blame for others and to suffer the consequences in their place. I am certain that most of you have heard of this term. But have you ever heard of the theological equivalent? The word is “expiation” and it signifies “an act by which satisfaction is made for a crime and the liability to punishment for it is cancelled.”
Donuts Are Always Wonderful Discipleship Tools
We’ll get back to those words in a moment but for now let me tell you about a recent exchange I had with my son to provide a little context. Just the other day, we were at Dunkin Donuts after school. We do this relatively often because, well, donuts. Now, my third born son is a hoss when it comes to eating. He eats fast, loud, and crazy. So when he was finished with his donut he had left behind quite a mess. I’m actually surprised that any of the actual donut made it into his mouth.
While we were eating donuts, we started talking about HOW Jesus removed our sin. I told my son that Jesus washed our sins away. Asher seemed perplexed. And then he asked me this: “How does Jesus actually wash my sins away, dad”
What a great question! After a moment of thought, I responded with this: “Well Asher, look at the table that is in front of you. Is the table clean, Asher?” He responded with “No!” (obviously). I then told him to take a napkin and wipe all of the donut crumbs into his hand. After he did that I said, “Asher, is the table clean now?” He said “Yes!” Then I asked him why. And he responded very confidently and excitedly, “Because I wiped the crumbs off, dad!” I then said “That’s right Asher! You washed the crumbs away. And that is what Jesus did with our sin. He washed all of our crumbs (our sin) away. Now our tables (our lives) are clean!” He smiled and we went home.
Further Explanation of Scapegoat/Expiation
In 30 seconds I had taught my child the doctrine of expiation, which originates in Leviticus 16, where Aaron (the high priest) took two goats which were meant to be a sacrifice as a sin offering. But only one of the goats would be killed (as an atonement for sin). The other goat would be sent away into the wilderness, likewise as an atonement, but as an additional symbol that Israel’s sin was not only sacrificed for but also carried away (hence, the scapegoat).
Ultimately, this points us to the supreme scapegoat: Jesus, the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world once and for all (John 1:29). Not only did he cover our sin through His death on the cross, but He carried it away at the same time.
Now you can speak to your kids about expiation. And you probably won’t have to try hard to create a scenario for you to do so since I’m sure your kids have got that covered! :)
Something to Consider
Now that you hopefully have a greater understanding of the doctrine of expiation, can you think of a few additional ways that you could teach this to your children? I would love to learn from you.