Adam blamed Eve, who blamed the Serpent, who blamed God; the Pharisees blamed Jesus, and Pilate blamed the crowd. Today, republicans blame the democrats, who blame the President; liberals blame conservatives, who blame the socialists; the atheists blame the religious; the poor blame the wealthy, who blame the government; the workers blame their bosses; husbands blame their wives, who blame her husbands; one generation blames the other…and yes, all of my problems are YOUR fault!
When we think of the Cross we don’t often think about what the “sin of the world” might actually be, and just how the Lamb is slain from the foundation of the world (Rev.13:8) But if we dig deeper we find that foundational to our sin is blame-shifting. In our “us vs. them” world, we need an enemy to rally against to make us feel better about ourselves. But this peace is fleeting.
This ancient practice is called “scapegoating.” And when you and I are assessing blame, we’re dancing to its demonic beat; for it’s behind most, if not all, evils that humans have committed against one another.
Blame-shifting is the very opposite of God’s other-centered, self-giving love.
I shared this concept of scapegoating and how the cross exposes it for the world to see back in 2016. I thought it would be good to review on this particular Easter week as we find ourselves held captive to Coronavirus while in the thick of a presidential election year. Everywhere we look we can find people to blame! Even God is being blamed for our current predicament.
Scapegoating is Adamic blame-shifting, the demonic sacrifice to the “gods of this world.” It’s the same forbidden fruit Eve and Adam ate from that we’ve been eating from ever since.
According to Girard, whenever things got tense between warring tribes, finding a common enemy was (and is) the way to bring peace and form these unholy alliances.
When we understand this we can see how Jesus was offered as the scapegoat by the angry mob to quell the tensions between the religious and political forces working in Jerusalem in the first century. And we should notice what happened because of this (emphasis added):
10 The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. 11 Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. 12 That day Herod and Pilate became friends—before this they had been enemies.(Luke 23:10-13 NIV)
This is the perfect illustration of finding a common villain to bring about these devilish detentes between two warring factions. This particular illusion of peace between the Jews and the Romans lasted about 40 years.
But because of His love and mercy, God codified a form of scapegoating into Law (Lev.16:20-26), setting us up so that He could use it against us by ultimately making Himself the victim, exposing and disarming scapegoating on the cross for all the world to see. In doing so, Jesus “takes away the sin of the world.” This is the “sin” that empowers all sin—the belly of the Beast, if you will.
“One of the things the Cross does is drag this foundational sin into the broad daylight.” (Brian Zahnd – “Lamb of God – The Last Scapegoat”)
As Girard points out, the only difference between all pagan scapegoating and Jesus is that Jesus was vindicated by God by raising Him from the dead!
23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead… (Acts 2:23-24a NIV)
Cain cannot hide this Body and stay in denial anymore. We’ve just scapegoated God! The deepest darkest part of us is forever exposed for what it truly is. The satanic lie that runs this world has been unmasked by pure Love! This one event on Calvary was God’s most brilliant sting operation. Behold the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world!
Beloved, Jesus has exposed and judged the “prince of this world” (John 12:31; 16:10-11) and brought us all into a very different kingdom because of His great love. Let’s not continue following the accuser’s counterfeit way of peace. Instead of separating ourselves from God and each other, appeasing our scapegoat volcano gods, the Prince of Peace has come to restore us all back to Himself, making all things new! Let’s follow Him instead, for when we see ourselves in Christ, we will find each other there, too.
21 I pray for them all to be joined together as one
even as you and I, Father, are joined together as one.
I pray for them to become one with us
so that the world will recognize that you sent me.
22 For the very glory you have given to me I have given them
so that they will be joined together as one
and experience the same unity that we enjoy.
23 You live fully in me and now I live fully in them
so that they will experience perfect unity,
and the world will be convinced that you have sent me,
for they will see that you love each one of them
with the same passionate love that you have for me. (John 17:21-23 TPT)