Note: if you’d like to start with the Introduction to the whole series, please start here.
“If man had his way, the plan of redemption would be an endless and bloody conflict. In reality, salvation was bought not by Jesus’ fist, but by His nail-pierced hands; not by muscle but by love; not by vengeance but by forgiveness; not by force but by sacrifice. Jesus Christ our Lord surrendered in order that He might win; He destroyed His enemies by dying for them and conquered death by allowing death to conquer Him.”― A.W. Tozer, Preparing for Jesus’ Return: Daily Live the Blessed Hope
In this second week of Advent, we will focus on Christ our Redeemer and Christ the Perfect Sacrifice.
Day 8 – December 6, 2020
“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me, your only son.” Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” Genesis 22:12-14
Have you ever been asked to make a sacrifice you just couldn’t make? Does satisfying God feel like an impossible task?
Sacrifice is an essential part of the biblical story. The first sacrifices recorded were those of Cain and Abel. Abel’s sacrifice was acceptable to God. Cain’s was not. We’re not sure why, but both Cain and Abel seemed to know. Sacrifices weren’t transactions of livestock for forgiveness. Acceptable sacrifices were an act of sincere faith. They were acts of loving obedience, given with willing and generous hearts. They were acts of worship. Letting go of something of value, in order to place a priority on God and his rule and reign in the world. And they were ever present reminders of our alienation from God and our need for redemption.
In this story, God tested Abraham’s faith, to see if he would give his only son, the son of promise? God stopped him in the middle of that sacrifice and directed him toward a new lesson caught the a thicket. Abraham looked up and saw a ram. And Abraham knew the Lord had provided this ram for sacrifice. Abraham called the place, “The Lord Will Provide.“ Abraham experienced the goodness and grace of God. God, at the same time, required a sacrifice and provided the sacrifice. He is a God of gracious provision.
For millennia, the people of God waited for the perfect sacrifice. He was promised in Isaiah 53.
“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:4-5
God did provide a sacrifice. And in Jesus Christ, he became the sacrifice. Think about that for a moment. God created us for a relationship with him. Our sin separated us from Him and each other. So, in His grace, He sacrificially provided everything required to redeem us and restore the relationship. And the One who came is Jesus. The Son of God gave Himself. He is at the same time; Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace and He is the perfect Lamb of sacrifice. He is God and Son. He is Judge and atoning Sacrifice.
It’s time we trust His grace and His gift. We trust His grace. He is a good God of great love. He gives us Himself in the depth of our need. And His gift, Jesus Christ, is perfect. He is the sinless one who came and gave Himself for us.
Lord, my Lord. I come humbled. I cannot fathom the depths of what it means for you to do what you did. You are God, who became a man, so women and men might live again. You lived a life of perfection. And you offered yourself to God, being obedient even to death.
I am ever aware that I should be the one on the altar of sacrifice. Instead, in your great love, you gave yourself, so I might live in you. I praise you and trust you, the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world.
Lord, help us as we wait for your work of redemption to be complete, as we wait for the redemption of our bodies in their glorious form. Help us live in the joy of your provision in Christ. And I pray for the joy of your people.
Amen and Amen.