(In 2017, I wrote this series for the 40 days prior to Easter to prepare our hearts and minds for the significance of Jesus’ resurrection. I’m reposting the series now for the 40 days after Easter to encourage us to follow through, living in the risen Savior and King.)
“Go sit in the back room! Go! Get out of the lobby!” the hotel clerk whispered aggressively to four or five men and women talking quietly by the elevator. Their stained clothing, slight body odor, and a few comments I overheard, suggested that they were an off-duty cleaning crew. Or maybe they were locals who had stepped in to get out of the bitter cold for a few minutes. Either way, the clerk was now moving toward them flailing her hands like she was shooing flies.
I was speechless. Another member of the hotel’s staff had just welcomed me with wonderful customer service. Now I was wondering if I should tell this clerk that her apparent concern to create a more pleasant atmosphere was really counter-productive. But just then most of them followed her hushed but heated orders and left the lobby. A few were laughing, but one was clearly embarrassed.
I wonder if that’s how lepers felt in biblical times. Can you imagine being required to cover your face, wear torn clothes, keep your hair messy and yell “Unclean! Unclean!”? God commanded this so even a deaf or blind person would know that they were coming and to steer clear. (Leviticus 13:45-46)
In yesterday’s devotional, “God warns“, we saw that God required the Israelites to put some distance between His holy presence and them as sinners. On the North, South, and West around the Tabernacle, there were even walls of warning that prevented them from coming too close: the physical curtains that made up the courtyard around the Holy place. And on those same sides were the three tribes of Levites whom God commanded to camp immediately outside the courtyard. (Exodus 40:28-33)
That doesn’t sound very welcoming. How was anyone ever to come close to God? They were to go to the front of the Tabernacle that always faced the rising sun of each new day.
On the East side, God had commanded the Priests to camp at the opening – right in front of the altar. There, the mediator was always ready to welcome the sinner by the sacrifice accepted on their behalf. (Numbers 3:38) This is exactly what we see when the Lord Jesus is in the house of Simon the leper and a prostitute comes in and pours an expensive oil on Jesus’ head. (Matthew 26:6-13) There are so many beautiful pictures of God welcoming sinners here because of the Mediator who would soon present the perfect and final Sacrifice in their place: Himself.
With which person in that story do you most powerfully connect? You, too, can now come intimately close to God through His Son, Jesus. But only through His Son, our perfect High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16)