In Need of a Scapegoat?


So, if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

John 8:36 ESV

Bring in the goats!

Wait. . . What?  Right in the middle of the ‘Schedule of Atonement Sacrifices’ found in the book Leviticus, God has placed a pair of goats.  [See the description stating in Leviticus 16:7 here.]  One was to be sacrificed for the sin of the people while the other’s purpose was to complete the atonement process by symbolically carrying the sin far away.

Can you just picture it? A goat is piled with all their wrong doings. Then, it was forced out into the wilderness never to be seen again. What a great illustration of what happens to our sin when we confess it to God—it disappears.

Just one small problem.

First, we must do the confessing part. All too often we come up with a variety of excuses for why we just can’t do the right thing. We don’t want to go against the flow of popular thinking, too tired, it didn’t seem so bad at the moment, or I just wanted what I wanted (probably the most truthful one of the bunch).

We fall into the game of blaming others or our circumstances, and we place our bad decisions onto them, trying to free our own conscience of guilt. We comfort ourselves saying, “It wasn’t really my fault. If it hadn’t been for. . . I wouldn’t have been forced to . . .”  In reality, our sin is still with us to be repeated over and over because we have convinced ourselves we aren’t really doing anything bad. It’s that other guy’s fault. Even when we think the sin has shifted off us, it never really departs. It lingers and festers, eventually becoming disease to our souls causing us to feel hopeless, worthless and devastated.

This is where we find the true. . .


God has a plan when it comes to freeing us from sin. When Jesus took on the sin of the world, He not only paid the price with his life, but he also removed it, taking it away ‘into the wilderness’ far from sight. It’s gone.

But how can we get to this place of being free of our sins?  We need to quit blaming other people or things for our bad behavior, and face the facts that WE did wrong and confess it to God. If we own our sin, then we also have the power to release it to the Lord who will then carry it away.

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1 8-9 ESV

There are two synonyms in the English language for scapegoat that caused me to pause. The first,


This is someone who takes that blame for crimes he had no part in. Jesus certainly fits this definition. What He did was no small thing. When I envision the sign declaring His one ‘crime’—being King of the Jews— nailed to the top of His cross at His crucifixion, I see something different. The sign above His head has been replaced with the list of my sins so numerous a parchment scroll runs down to the ground and away into the distance. His willingness to take the blame for my wrongdoing is not an easy thing to comprehend.

Then, there is the term—


This one really gets to me. For you who may not know the term whipping boy comes from a practice in the English court during the 15th and 16th century. It assigned a young boy to a monarch’s son to take the punishment when the prince misbehaved. How would you like to have that job? It is a heartbreaking realization that Jesus has taken on that role in my life. As usual, God has done what He always does and has flipped everything upside down to challenge our perspective. Roles have been reversed and the King’s Son has not only taken the blame, He has taken beating for us as well.

When was the last time. . .

you considered the full measure of what God’s plan of atonement means? Have you accepted that you are completely forgiven, or have you held on to bits of your sin because you didn’t really know how to rid yourself of them? God has thought of everything to bring you total deliverance. Whether it is the carrying away, taking the blame, or enduring our punishment, Jesus’ work on the cross has covered it all. Release your sin to the One who can remove it and take it into the wilderness to be seen no more.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Psalm 103:11-12

6 Comments Add yours

  1. I really learned something new here today, Patty. I knew about the Old Testament scapegoat, but the other explanations you’ve given here truly shed a brighter light on my understanding that Jesus was/is that scapegoat for us. May we readily confess our sins and be forgiven.

  2. crickett says:

    Great post, Patty! The “whipping boy” really brought things into perspective for me. So thankful for Jesus’ love for us.

    1. Patty Schell says:

      Me, too. When I consider the cost and the fact He did it before I could object, means so much to me.

  3. Patty, the teacher in you came through on this one. Thanks for another great applicable and easy to understand lesson.

    1. Patty Schell says:

      Thanks, Beckie!

Leave a Reply