We hear it a lot - Jesus died to save us. It often feels commonplace. But, hopefully, by hearing this story today, that truth will become so shocking and dear to you that it will never feel commonplace again.
Nearly Sacrificing the Chosen Son
After decades of waiting, the son God promised Abraham and Sarah has been born. Isaac is Abraham’s only son, and he loves him dearly. But God makes an impossible-sounding request of Abraham in order to test him. God tells Abraham to go to a mountain called Moriah and sacrifice his only son Isaac.
Isaac is his unique son because Isaac is the promised son. Isaac is the son through whom all nations would be blessed and God’s plan would be carried out. How could God be asking Abraham to kill him?
But after years of knowing God, Abraham trusts that God knows what he’s doing. By faith, Abraham trusted that God would do something to make this right. The New Testament tells us that Abraham had faith that, if the worst should happen, God would raise Isaac from the dead after he was sacrificed.
Regardless, Abraham obeyed. He took his son to Mount Moriah, built an altar, and bound his son. With a knife in his hand, Abraham was about to sacrifice his son. But God stopped him by calling out to him. And when Abraham looked around, he saw a ram caught in a thicket which he then took and sacrificed in Isaac’s place.
What was spoken in faith by Abraham before they went up on the mountain proved true: “God will provide for himself the lamb” (22:8) And since he obeyed, God promises that he will surely multiply into a great nation and be a blessing to the whole earth.
Where is Jesus?
Some stories in the Old Testament only become meaningful in light of Jesus. Other stories only become palatable for some in light of Jesus. When we see Jesus in this story it helps with both.
Freely Sacrificing the Chosen Son
What should stop us dead in our tracks is this: what God did not require of Abraham, he required of himself. Even though Abraham’s son was spared on that day, we know that God’s son, Jesus, was not.
Even more so than Isaac, Jesus was the special and unique son of God. Even more so than Isaac, Jesus was the promised son from the line of Eve and Abraham. Even more so than Isaac, Jesus was the son through whom all nations would be blessed and God’s plan would be realized.
Many ask a similar question in light of both this story and the cross. How could God allow Jesus to be killed?
It was not a test for God, as it was for Abraham. God did not need to be tested. Instead, it was a testament to us. Just as Abraham being willing to sacrifice his son demonstrated his fear of God, Jesus sacrificing himself demonstrates God’s love for us. God loves us so much that he was willing to do for us what he did not even require Abraham to do.
And since Jesus obeyed for us, we receive the blessing offered to Abraham. We get to join in God’s project of blessing all nations. How? By sharing the good news that the chosen son loved us so much that he has been freely sacrificed.