|AGNUS DEI THE SCAPEGOAT (TISSOT)|
When I played high school basketball our teammates had a funny phrase that we threw around in pressure situations during a game. We would ask sort of as a motivation, "you gonna be a hero or a goat?" What we were asking each other was, "are you able stop step up and make that crucial free throw, or make that game wining three pointer?" Of course we all wanted to be the hero. No one wants to be the goat! That figure of speech comes from the Old Testament when the priest would place their hands on the head of the scapegoat, recite the sins of the people out loud, and in so doing transferred the sins of the people to the scapegoat. Following the ceremony a person would lead the goat out into the wilderness. It is unclear what exactly happened there. Some believe the term "Azazel" was the name ascribed to the goat, or the place where the goat went into the wilderness, or maybe a demon, spirit, or a god that was allowed by YHWH to destroy the goat after he went into the wilderness.
Angus dei is the theological term for Christ as savior and or usually an image of Christ represented as the lamb of God. I want to propose that Jesus is our "Agnus Dei", and he is also our scapegoat as James Tissot has proposed in his painting. The concept exists quite deeply in this Old Testament practice as a part of the Day of Atonement. Jesus is our scapegoat, and he is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He also is the scapegoat that has our sins transmitted to him. He does not just take our sins away and throw them into the deepest ocean, they have been transmitted to him so that we can have full expiation. I would like to show how Jesus is a type of the scapegoat, but a much better version.
The Scape Goat was...
- ...Part of the sin offering on the day of atonement (Lev 16:5,7). On the other hand, Jesus was our sin offering on the day of his atonement (Rom 3:25; Heb 9:5,11-14).
- ...Chosen by casting lots (Lev 16:8). Likewise, Jesus was chosen before the foundation of the world by the council of the Holy Trinity to take away our sin (1 Pet 1:18-20; Rev 13:8; 1 Cor 2:7-10).
- ...Transferred the sins of Israel by the High Priest by confessing them with both hands upon its head (Lev 16:21). God transferred our sins to Jesus when we confess Him with our mouth by faith (2 Cor 5:21; Rom 4:22-24, Rom 10:9-10).
- ...Sent into the wilderness by the hands of a fit person (Lev 16:21,22). Jesus was similarly
THE SCAPEGOAT (WILLIAM HOLMAN HUNT)
- ...Unclean and communicated it to the high priest (Lev 16:24), and the man who led the scapegoat away (Lev 16:26). Whereas the scapegoat communicated uncleanness to the High Priest and the person who led him away, Jesus on the other hand communicates cleanness and righteousness through his perfect life and expiatory death (2 Cor 5:21).
- ...An obvious type of Christ (Isa 53:6, 11, 12). We can clearly see Jesus in the scapegoat practice. In Isaiah 53 we see that God laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was the once and for all final scapegoat never more to yearly lay hands on a goat to transmit the sins of the people, we have once and for all laid our hands on Jesus and God has transmitted our sins onto him. He has credited us with his righteousness by grace through faith so that we don't have to rely on the blood of sheep, goats, and bulls, "for it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins (Heb 10:4)." Now we can rely on Christ's blood by faith.
So instead of us trying to be our own Goats anymore we have a savior who is the Scape Goat on our behalf so that we can play the hero in God's eyes. When he applies the work of Christ to our account God only sees Christ the hero of all of history, and our heroic victorious Lamb. He is the G.O.A.T. The Greatest Of All Time indeed! Praise the Lord!