I remember forgetting to return a library book when I was fourteen. I checked it out. I knew I needed to return it. Nevertheless, there it laid for weeks or months beyond its due date. I was tempted to not return it. However, the better part of me compelled myself to walk through the library doors and face the music. The librarian took the book and in an unharmonious voice told me what I already knew, “This book is late.” The fine was twenty or so dollars, a small fortune for a 14-year-old, especially in the nineties.

Apparently, by holding on to the book past its due date, I may have deprived others the opportunity of borrowing that book. I might have hurt library business, albeit in a small way, by temporarily decreasing their offerings. I did finally satisfy my fine. My lending rights and my relationship with the public library were restored.

Over the last several weeks, we have looked at the major categories of sacrifices that composed the sacrificial system of ancient Israel. Here we discuss the last one, the Reparation Offering (sometimes called the Guilt Offering). The Reparation Offering functioned in a similar way as my library fine, albeit to a greater degree.

The Reparation Offering (Leviticus 5:14-6:7) satisfied a debt. Only the Reparation Offering required an added fine (Leviticus 5:16). The fine taught the ancient Israelites something most of us learn in Kindergarten; our actions have consequences. Our sin constitutes a debt, ultimately to God and usually, in some way, to another party.

Christ was the ultimate fulfillment of the Reparation Offering. The Prophet Isaiah said, “…the LORD makes his life an offering for sin… (Isaiah 53:10).” The phrase “makes his life an offering for sin” uses the same Hebrew word we translate “Reparation Offering.”

Yet, though Christ once-for-all made reparation for our sin, we ought to show the fruits of his offering in our lives. Zacchaeus was such a man who did this. Being a first-century tax-collector, he likely defrauded people in many ways (cp. Leviticus 6:1-7). However, once he encounters Jesus, he declares, “…if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Zacchaeus went well beyond the fee attached to the Reparation Offering. Jesus said of Zacchaeus, “Today salvation has come to this house.” (Luke 19:1-10)

Because Christ paid the cost of your sin, show you have received his offering. Make amends whenever and however you can.

The Rev. Michael Birbeck is pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Wellsboro.