By Jarrod Belcher
“And they bound him and led him away.” Matthew 27:2. I was watching an ESPN documentary about the 2003 National League Championship that the Chicago Cubs lost in heartbreaking fashion. There were several things that went wrong for the Cubs to blow a lead and ultimately lose a chance at the World Series but the thing that got the most attention wasn’t something that happened on the field. On a pop-fly near the stands a fan on the first row reached up to catch what he thought would be a souvenir. But the ball could have possibly been caught by the left-fielder and the fan’s interference kept that from happening. Many in Wrigley Field were so angry with the fan that they hurled insults at him and some even threatened his life. He got the blame for a Cubs loss when there were many other things that happened on the field in that inning.
In the program a Minister offered her take on the situation. She said the fan was a scapegoat for the loss and she cited the Biblical example taken from Leviticus on the Day of Atonement. On that day a priest would lay his hands on a goat and confess the sins of the people in order to transfer their sins to the goat. They would then take him and lead him out of the city symbolizing that you could not find their sins anymore. It is said that they would hurl insults at the goat as it was led away. Certainly the treatment of the fan at Wrigley reminds us of this event.
But either the Minister or ESPN left short the whole meaning of scapegoat. The Day of Atonement was pointing to and was fulfilled when Jesus was taken and crucified. Innocent Jesus was led away and endured the insults of the very people whose sins would be paid for through his death. He was led away so that if someone searched for their sins they could not be found. It is a picture of complete forgiveness found in Christ. Certainly Paul has in mind Isaiah 53 when he says of Jesus that God, “made him to be sin who knew no sin, so we might be the righteousness of God.”