February 28: Leviticus 3-4 | Psalms 104 | 1 Corinthians 12-13
Reading 1 - Leviticus 3:2
"He is to lay his hand on the head of his offering and slaughter it at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting" (Lev 3:2).
By laying his hand on the head of the sacrifice before killing it, the offerer was to establish a close, personal link between himself and the sacrifice. First of all, it was to be his property (Lev 1:2); and secondly, he was to touch it and handle it, thus identifying himself with it.
All this is figurative of our relationship with Christ, who is the true and complete and final sacrifice for all sins. First of all, Jesus is one of us: his Heavenly Father made him a man, born of woman, born under the law (Gal 4:4), and thus possessing our own sin-prone nature (Rom 8:3; Heb 2:14). The Father did this, so that the Son, in his perfect life and self-denying death, could overcome that nature that was subject to sin.
Secondly, we emphasize this relationship in baptism, when we identify ourselves with his death, burial, and resurrection (Rom 6:1-4). Thus we show that he belongs to us, and we belong to him. In this way, and this way only, his sacrifice will have meaning for us -- figuratively, we lay hands on Jesus, and he becomes OUR offering!
And thirdly, we remember that great sacrifice, and renew our connection with it and our dedication to it, in the regular breaking of bread. Thus -- in a spiritual sense, we lay hands on Christ as we partake of the bread and wine -- and he becomes "that... which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched" (1Jo 1:1).
Reading 2 - Psalm 104:15
"Wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart" (Psa 104:15).
This could be better rendered: "And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, MAKING HIS FACE TO SHINE AS WITH OIL, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart."
Following the AV mg (and other authorities), this verse describes not three products, but two: (1) wine that gladdens the heart of man, "to making his face shine; and (2) bread that strengthens man's heart. Thus this verse mentions the two great gifts -- bread and wine -- by which we remember and celebrate our fellowship with the Father through His Son. Each Sunday the bread and wine are the means of memorializing the strength and joy of our new life in Christ.
Reading 3 - 1Corinthians 12
"The body is one" (1Co 12:12). It is the Father's wisdom generally to place believers together in "families". The ecclesia is more often the object of concern than is the individual standing alone. We are all, whether we like it or not, members of a body. No man should live to himself; that would be selfishness, stagnation, sterility, and a direct contradiction of Paul's elaborate allegory. The most important lesson of our spiritual education is to learn to think and to act unselfishly as part of the One Body, and not selfishly as a separate individual, even as regards our own salvation.
The body is one, yet it has many members (1Co 12:14). Some are less beautiful or more feeble than others (1Co 12:22,23), but these too are necessary. "God hath tempered the body together" (1Co 12:24); these individuals have been welded together with the ecclesia. In faith and obedience they have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. Those for whom Christ died must not be treated haughtily or indifferently.