Over the next few months, I plan to share some brief reflections on the book of Leviticus. I’m not sure how far through the book I intend to get, but it should be a good exercise regardless. This is a reflection on the sixth chapter (specifically 6:8 – 7:10).
“Every male among the priests may eat of it. It shall be eaten in a holy place. It is most holy.”Leviticus 7:6
Jesus had many confrontations with the religious leaders of his day. On one occasion, he was walking through the cornfields with his disciples, and they were plucking and eating some of the corn. The religious leaders, who were nearby, asked Jesus why he allowed his disciples to do this. After all, it was the Sabbath, and gathering food in this manner was not permitted on the Sabbath.
Jesus’s response to them was unexpected. Instead of arguing about the technicalities of the Sabbath commandment, Jesus reminded them about a similar incident in the old testament, where David and his mighty men went into the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which was only for the priests. The implication was clear – this sort of food would normally be holy, normally off-bounds. But in special circumstances, it could be made holy by an anointed one. And just as David’s holy status applied also to his men, so too did Jesus’s holy status extend to his disciples.
This story teaches us a general principle about the sacrificial offerings under the old covenant. With a few exceptions, priests were permitted to eat a portion of the food offered at the altar. Even though such offerings were holy, God extended his holiness to include them. And through Jesus, God does the same with us. In him, we have become priests of the living God, sharing in his holiness and bringing it with us wherever we go.