An acceptable gift is a biblical theme that reveals for us a glimpse of God’s heart and how He views our giving. As we understand God’s perspective, it will shape our perspective as givers, too. Jeff Anderson founded a ministry to bring light to these perspectives. We will be sharing his thoughts as we present the acceptable gift from these three unique perspectives.
History tells us that five days before Passover, the Israelite children selected a lamb from the family farm. They picked out the best one and brought it inside their homes (that’s right – inside!) for the next several days. I’m sure momma didn’t like bringing animals in the house. But this was a special occasion.
1,500 years later, a stunning series of events took place. Five days before Passover, Jesus rode through Bethany on a donkey. Just as the barnyard lamb was loved by the children, Jesus was loved by God’s children.
“Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!“, they shouted.
Back on the family farm, after the lamb was selected it was inspected. For 5 days the family bonded with the precious lamb, like it was a beloved pet. This also allowed them to observe the lamb to be reminded of its perfect, innocent condition!
Fast forward to that Palm Sunday we still celebrate: for the next several days, Jesus bonded with his disciples and followers. He was also inspected and examined by the chief priests and religious leaders. They questioned his authority. And they charged Him with crimes. But like with the barnyard lamb, no one could find fault with Jesus.
Back on the farm, I imagine the children woke up a little sad on the morning before Passover. This was the day they sacrificed the barnyard lamb.
In the same way, Jesus was sacrificed around the Passover holiday. A chilling connection. It makes sense now why the sacrifices were so meaningful to God, doesn’t it? Under Mosaic Law, when an animal was sacrificed, it was to be a “male without defect… so that it will be acceptable to the Lord.” (Leviticus 1:3). Notice the barnyard lamb was a picture of Jesus: a male without defect. And the word “acceptable”? That means “pleasing.” These sacrifices were pleasing to God.
In the case of the Passover lamb, not even a bone was to be broken when preparing the feast meal. In the same way, when Jesus was crucified on the cross his legs were not broken either (but the legs of the two thieves on the cross were broken). Again, the passover lamb was a picture of God’s lamb.
When a lamb was sacrificed on the altar, it resulted in a “pleasing aroma” to God (Leviticus 1:9). It’s hard to imagine the burnt animal sacrifices being pleasing in this way; but they were. Even the cross crucifixion was described as a “fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:2).
The barnyard lamb was an “acceptable” offering to God, and a symbol of freedom from slavery for the Israelites. Jesus offered himself as an acceptable sacrifice to God, symbolizing freedom for us. The 1,500 years of animal sacrifices under the law were a foreshadow of the Easter gift on the cross that we celebrate today.
Easter eggs, bunnies, baskets and chocolate. It’s a fun time for families. We should enjoy the activities… and the feasting too. But you might also want to share with your families (young ones and old) the story about the barnyard animal that started it all… the Easter Lamb.
Consider again the “sheep” that you offer.