For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
The Hebrew Scriptures tell us about the laws of the red heifer, the laws that provide ritual purification to those who have been contaminated by contact with a carcass of some sort (Numbers 19). These laws have a problem in themselves. The priest who slaughters the red heifer becomes himself ritually unclean, therefore unable to continue to perform the ritual unless he has by him remaining red heifer solution. After 2, 000 years of Diaspora we do not have any of that solution, so even if the Temple was rebuilt today, it would not be able to operate because along with the priesthood, it needs to be purified with the ashes of a red heifer.
Whereas we may not fully understand the reasons for these laws, we must always remember that the psalmist said that the Law of God is perfect, pure and right altogether (Psalms 19: 7-8), so whether we can figure it in our own mind or not, whatever it teaches is right and beneficial for us. Here is something we can glean from the mystical rulings concerning the red heifer.
Priests usually tried to avoid the state of ritual uncleanliness. In the days of the Master they had become obsessed by it. That is why the priest did not want to help the dying man on the road to Jericho (Luke 10:30-36). It is also why people could not conceive that a holy man like Yeshua would agree to go to the house of Matthew or even Zaccheus who, while being Jewish were people unparticular of these things. Because pagans often buried their dead in the walls or under their house, Rabbis declared it a sin to enter the house of a non-Jew. That is why Peter had to be given permission by Yeshua himself to go to Cornelius’ house (Acts 10). sexual relations provoked that same type of uncleanliness, so Moses who was to be ready to enter in the presence of God at any time forewent having sexual relations with his wife which caused those who did not understand the full scope of his actions to murmur against him (Numbers 12:1).
Contrary to that attitude in the laws of the red heifer, just like in the procedures of Yom Kippur, the priest voluntarily made himself unclean by the slaughtering of the chosen animal, and this teaches us a great lesson. Yeshua also went contrary to the idea of ritual cleanliness held by the priests of His days. Instead of avoiding uncleanliness, He went right into it. Just like the priest performing the ritual slaughter voluntarily became unclean for the sake of purifying Israel Yeshua voluntarily put on the sinful cloak of humanity, became unclean for our sake so He could provide us with the cleansing needed to return us unto God.
As we try to keep ourselves ‘clean’ from the world and its ‘death’, we should always remember that spiritual cleanliness is not an end in itself but a means to an end, and the end is service to our brothers and sisters, to those who have seen the light, but all the more to those who have not. Like Peter, the Master tells us to not be afraid to enter the house of the ungodly and bring him the message of God’s words.