In a modern sense, the word scapegoat is used to refer to anyone who is singled out to take the blame for others.
The idea of a scapegoat or scapegoating has its origins in biblical times when a goat was sent off into the wilderness. The goat carried the sins of the congregation with him and wore a red cloth on its head. If the cloth turned white it meant these sins had been forgiven.
With reference to the New Testament, the idea is seen as representaive of Christ suffering to save mankind.
The painting on the left illustrates this practice. Click here to listen to an analysis of the painting.