Atonement Day on the ancient Hebrew calendar marked the day that two goats were brought before the community. One goat was ritually slain, the other, the scapegoat, having had the sins of the community laid on it, was set loose into the wilderness, not to knowingly be seen again.
Anthropologist/theologian Renee Girard cites this as an example of how a society, evolutionally violent at its core, maintains cohesion.
Something like that happened in Australian cricket this week. A sacred code was violated and sacrifices and scapegoats were needed. The media high priests called the shots and the public at large was vindicated. It has arguably been the nation’s most unifying event in recent days.
And now it’s Good Friday and the scapegoat chosen to bear the brokenness of the cosmos was Jesus of Nazareth, the one anointed as the Christ. Believer or not, do not dismiss what this day signifies! It is repeated time and time again, all around us. Good Friday’s scapegoat did not disappear into the wilderness, however. He broke the system, and after tomorrow we will enter a new kind of world!