Bible reading for March 31 -- Leviticus 2-3; John 21.
"If his offering is a sacrifice of peace offering, if he offers an animal from the herd, male or female, he shall offer it without blemish before the LORD." (Leviticus 3:1)
Types of offerings. Offerings could be from the livestock (or doves), and some offerings could be of grain or other produce. There were three general categories of sacrifices: a) sin and guilt, b) whole burnt, and c) peace. Sin offerings (guilt offerings added restitution) were burnt on the altar but part of the meat would be apportioned for the priests as their support. Whole burnt ("holocaust") sacrifices were burned in their entirety and therefore symbolized complete dedication to the Lord. Peace (or thank) offerings were given to the Lord and also shared as a meal with family, friends, and priests, as a celebration of God restoring the person to life and fellowship.
No blemishes. Offerings had to be "without blemish". That is repeated throughout Leviticus. This is not mere perfectionism, as we might condemn in other people (who aren't perfect), but God himself is infinitely holy, perfect, and deserving of the very best. In fact all of creation belongs to him! This perfection looks forward to the sacrifice that God himself would make in sending his Son: "...how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God" (Heb 9:14). This reminds us too that we, as those redeemed by Christ, should seek to live unblemished lives and offer our very best to the Lord.
Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." (John 21:12a)
Breakfast by the sea. It is a post-resurrection appearance of our Lord, and here they are, seated around a campfire having breakfast together beside the Sea of Galilee. It is so normal in one sense. There are no strange lights or sounds (and no smoke machines). It was very much like any given day over the past three years of Galilean ministry together. Yet, it is different. Everything had changed. But it is not ethereal -- it is very real. Our Lord did not come to destroy the creation order but only what was impure within it. In that sense grace restores nature. Theologian Herman Bavinck explains, "Christianity is not a quantitative entity which hovers transcendently above the natural, but a religious and ethical power which enters immanently within the natural and banishes only that which is impure. The Kingdom of heaven may be a treasure and a pearl; it is also a mustard seed and a leaven." (Bavinck cited by Jan Veenof in "Nature and Grace in Bavinck", Pro Rege, 34:4 [June 2006])
Restored relationships. It was a really big catch of fish! But the marvel isn't about the fish, as John said, "It is the Lord!" Peter could not wait to row to land but jumped in the water to swim to Jesus. The ultimate goal was not breakfast but restoring relationships. Jesus was turning failure back into fellowship. So, the difficult question was, "Do you love me?" -- repeated three times, the same number as Peter's denials. Peter affirms his love (three times) and so he is restored not only to faithfulness to Jesus but also to useful ministry. We should never forget that the proclamation of the gospel is called a "ministry of reconciliation" (2 Cor 5:18-19).
The beloved disciple. John refers to himself as the "disciple whom Jesus loved". Many have taken this to mean that John was claiming to have a special place in Jesus's love, like he was a preferred disciple. But I don't believe John was saying that at all. John was identifying himself by the characteristic he most valued, that is, that he was loved by the Lord. John never seems to vaunt himself above the other disciples, but he does draw much attention to the love of God (see 1 John, for example). To John the most wonderful thing that could ever be true of him, or us, is that we are loved by the Lord. It is still amazing to me -- even after being a Christian for many years -- that I am a person whom Jesus could and would love! You and I also are disciples whom Jesus loves: "To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen" (Rev 1:5-6).
Image credit: photo at top by Kyle Peyton on Unsplash. Lower photo by Adrian Infernus on Unsplash.
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.