Today is Yom Kippur, one of the Holiest of the High Holy Days of the Jews which we remember. Our Lesson from Leviticus explains the preparations which the high priest had to make in order to offer the offering for the sins of the people. First he had to wash, a symbol of purity. Then he had to put on the special clothes reserved to the high priest (clothing indicates our deeds). Afterwards, he had to have a sacrifice to pay for his own sins. Then and only then could he enter into the Holy of Holies and sacrifice for the sins of the peoples, which he did by sprinkling blood on the cover of the ark of the covenant. Note even then, he had a rope tied to his foot just in case. The hem of his robe had bells. If the bells stopped ringing, they knew the High Priest had been struck dead for his sins and was pulled out.
Jesus, by his death on the cross finished this sacrifice for ever. Jesus was without sin, so no need to wash, or even sacrifice. He was perfect man, without sin, so he needed no magnificent clothing to symbolize his good deeds, all his deeds were good. Through his goodness and perfection, he was able to enter into that Holy Place, of which the Holy of Holies was only the palest of shadows. Instead of offering the blood of a lamb, he offered his own blood to cover the mercy seat, once and for all, to cover our sins for ever. When Jesus died on the cross, we are told that the curtain in front of the Holy of Holies ripped in two. This symbolizes that we all have access to the throne of grace through the blood of Jesus.
The Jews wore white on this day, to symbolize they were clean of sin. The same in days gone past, Christians would don a white garment after their baptism, and wear it for fifty days to remind them that Jesus had paid for their sins and they were cleansed indeed.
Today, and every Friday is good to remember that Jesus, through his life and his death on the cross, provided for us a way to enter into God’s presence. Join with me fasting on this day, so that we may join Jesus in his sufferings so as to remember the wonders he did for us.
Lessons: Leviticus 16:1-34, Jonah 1:1-4:11, Hebrews 9:23-28, Mathew 27:45-51
Collect: Heavenly Father, as we remember the day of atonement which prefigured Messiah’s death on the cross. Separate our sins as far from us as the east is from the west, and grant that we may enter into the holy place where you now rein, one God, in glory everlasting. (Lenten array or violet)