Lent 33 (2012)–The Original Fall Guy

The collocation fall guy has been much in the news lately. Accordingly, a few weeks ago I reported the most common meaning of the slang phrase — “scapegoat” — but then cast a line into the mainstream of native users of the American language with this fishhook on it: “What was the original fall? … In other words, who was the original guy?”  (William Safire ,2007 )

I was thinking about a person being a fall guy and if I were to respond to Safire, my answer would be Jesus was the original fall guy, dealing with the original fall…the fall of man…and being the only true scapegoat killed to legitimately take the blame for others.

Justice Gets Done with Full Redemption.

John 11:45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.

Some of the people told the Pharisees what Jesus was doing…as if healing and miracles were criminal acts because they prompted faith in Jesus as Messiah.

John 11:47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. “What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”  Oh, I see.  We’re worried about the Romans as our authority.  Where’s God and His Messiah in all of this?  Maybe “What are we accomplishing?” is asking the wrong question.

John 11:49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” 51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one.   53 So from that day on they plotted to take his life.

The concept of a scapegoat goes back all the way to Leviticus 16:7-22 Then [Aaron] is to take the two goats and present them before the LORD at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. He is to cast lots for the two goats– one lot for the LORD and the other for the scapegoat.  Aaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to the LORD and sacrifice it for a sin offering.  But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD to be used for making atonement by sending it into the desert as a scapegoat…[Aaron] is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites– all their sins– and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task.  The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place; and the man shall release it in the desert.

Safire considered the views of a Miriam-Webster editor and then wrote,

“Knowing the source helps in defining standard words, but slang often double-crosses its sources. Thus we have these three senses of fall guy branching out: 1) an innocent scapegoat, whipping boy or patsy, meekly absorbing the blame; 2) a dupe, pushover, sucker easily victimized; 3) a confederate taking the rap for others out of fear or in expectation of reward…About that rap: from Standard English “a sharp blow with a stick,” it was taken up by slang in to beat the rap, “to escape punishment”; a bum rap, “unfair punishment”; and to take the rap — as the fall guy, in whatever sense you choose.”

Kind of ironic, isn’t it?  Jesus was an innocent scapegoat, considered by the Pharisees as a dupe and criminal to be executed—but on Jesus’ head, every sin was laid.  Jesus went to His death in a solitary place.  He took the rap so that we could beat the rap by His receiving a bum rap from us as God’s original fall guy because we needed…an eternal Savior and His forgiveness…more than just an annual ritual of a temporary scapegoat.

Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on March 30, 2012

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