The Laying on of Hands
If his offering be a burnt–offering of the herd....he shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt–offering...., (Lev. 1: 3, 4).
What, then, is the doctrine set forth in the laying on of hands? It is this: Christ was “made sin for us, that we might become God’s righteousness in him”, ( 2 Cor. 5: 21). He took our position with all its consequences, in order that we might get His position with all its consequences. He was treated as sin, upon the cross, that we might be treated as righteousness, in the presence of infinite Holiness. He had to leave God’s presence because He had sin upon Him by imputation, that we might be received into God’s house and into His bosom, because we have a perfect righteousness by imputation. He had to endure the hiding of God’s countenance, that we might bask in the light of that countenance. He had to pass through three hours’ darkness, that we might walk in everlasting light. He was forsaken of God for a time, that we might enjoy His presence for ever. All that was due to us, as ruined sinners, was laid upon Him, in order that all that was due to Him, as the Accomplisher of redemption, might be ours. There was everything against Him when He hung upon that cursed tree, in order that there might be nothing against us. He was identified with us, in the reality of death and judgement, in order that we might be identified with Him, in the reality of life and righteousness. He drank the cup of wrath that we might drink the cup of salvation—the cup of infinite favour. He was treated according to our just deserts, that we might be treated according to His.
Such is the grand truth seen by the ceremonial act of imposition of hands! When the worshipper had laid his hand upon the head of the burnt–offering, it ceased to be a question as to what he was, or what he deserved, and became entirely a question of what the offering was in the judgement of Jehovah. If the offering was without blemish, so was the offerer; if the offering was accepted, so was the offerer. They were perfectly identified. The act of laying on of hands constituted them one in God’s view. He looked at the offerer through the medium of the offering. Thus it was, in the case of the burnt–offering.
The laying on of hands also featured in the sin–offering: “for his sin which he hath sinned shall he present a young bullock without blemish to Jehovah for a sin–offering....and shall lay his hand on the bullock’s head”, (Lev. 4: 3, 4). However, in the sin–offering when the offerer had laid his hand upon the head of the offering, it became a question of what the offerer was, and what he deserved. The offering was treated according to the deserts of the offerer. They were perfectly identified. The act of laying on of hands constituted them one in the judgement of God. The sin of the offerer was dealt with in the sin–offering, the person of the offerer was accepted in the burnt–offering. This made a vast difference. Hence, though the act of laying on of hands was common to both types, and, though the idea of identification was expressed in each, nevertheless the consequences were as different as possible. In the one, the just treated as the unjust; in the other the unjust accepted in the just. “Christ hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.” This is the doctrine. Our sins brought Christ to the cross; but He brings us to God.