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Experiences of the sacrifices in James 1

Already in James chapter 1 alone there are numerous experiences of Christ as the reality of all sacrifices. As a reminder, the sacrifices that God required of His people at the time of the Old Covenant are described in the third book of Moses chapters 1 through 7. Today in the New Covenant, God still requires sacrifices from His people – but not animals or bread as in the Old Covenant, but spiritual sacrifices through Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Peter 2:5). The description of the sacrifices in Genesis 1-7 are a description of the riches of Christ, who fulfilled all these sacrifices in Himself. Jesus Christ is the true burnt offering, grain offering, peace offering, sin offering and trespass offering.

James writes a great deal about the experience of spiritual sacrifice in his first chapter. He does not mention them by name, but his instructions are completely consistent with Christ’s experience as these sacrifices. A few examples:

Burn offering

Already in the first verse James mentions the experience of Christ as the burnt offering:

James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings.

James 1:1

He calls himself a slave of God. A slave must first and foremost be obedient to his lord and master. And it is precisely obedience that shows Christ as the burnt offering. Jesus Christ was always 100 percent obedient to the Father. Not once was Jesus disobedient to the Father’s will. John 8:29 even tells us that he only ever did what was pleasing to the Father. Are we always obedient to our Master Jesus? Surely not. This is precisely why we absolutely need Christ as our burnt offering.

Meal offering

Verse 2 continues immediately with the experience of the meal offering:

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.

James 1:2

The meal offering in Leviticus 2 was unleavened bread (or cakes), which was offered to God primarily in ready-baked form. The heat with which the meal offering was baked (or roasted) is an image on the sufferings of Christ. Jesus went through all kinds of trials during his life. Already at his birth he was persecuted by Herod. At the very end, he went through the greatest trial: death on the cross. Through this “heat” Jesus was made perfect in His human life. In other words, he was “baked” as a meal offering to present Himself to God. Do we rejoice in trials and sufferings? We need Christ as our meal offering.

Peace offering

Shortly after, we see the peace offering:

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

James 1:12

The crown of life is for ruling in the coming 1000-year kingdom, which is a kingdom of peace. If we persevere in all trials – that is, if we do not “jump out of the oven,” – the result is peace. We have peace with God and people despite adverse circumstances. If we do not know Christ as a peace offering, we will become bitter and hardened when we go through suffering. We will blame God and find no peace. Therefore, we need Christ as our peace offering.

Sin offering

Later, James writes about the sin offering:

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

James 1:13-15

When we go through trials, Satan often comes to tempt us. He wants to bring us down in the test. He excites the lust in our flesh. When we give in to this lust, the inevitable result is sin. The result of sin is then death. Also in Jesus’ life we see how Satan tempted Him (cf. Matthew 4). But Jesus victoriously resisted every temptation. Sin had no chance to enter him. Even death had no power over him. We often succumb to Satan’s temptation and fall into his pit. This is why it is so important that we know and experience Christ as our sin offering.

Trespass offering

At the end we still see the trespass offering

Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

James 1:21

Sin is dirt that we must wash away. The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin if we confess it to Him and let Him cleanse us. When the Lord gives us light, we see the dirt and wickedness in our hearts. We are not to wait long, but take Christ as our trespass offering, applying His precious blood. Based on His blood, God forgives all our sins. We need this wonderful trespass offering every day.

May the Lord bring us into the reality of all sacrifices through the Word in James!

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