The Sacrifice of Abraham


In previous essays, I asked you, dear readers, to meditate on the cost of the cross.  The cross of Jesus had a cost, and each of us must think about what that cost is if we are going to truly be followers of Jesus in our lives.  If there is no cost, there can be no cross.

Sacrifice is the theme of Great Lent and Holy Week.  On Palm Sunday, we join Jesus on his triumphal entry into Jerusalem where he is hailed as King of the Jews but shortly will be branded a criminal and executed.  One of his handpicked followers will betray him to the religious leaders, and another one will betray him.  In the end, all of them will abandon him to take his journey alone.  Fearing for their lives they turn their back on him at the time when he needs them most.

The hands that created the universe will be pierced with nails and hung on a tree.  Our theology teaches us that death came into the world through a tree, the tree of the Garden of Eden, and now we see that death has been vanquished by a tree, the Tree of Calvary.

But what of sacrifice, what are we being asked to sacrifice?

We turn to the Book of Genesis and the story of Abraham and Isaac for the answer.  In the opening verses of the story, God is calling Abraham and he immediate answers “here I am.”  There is no hesitation; there is no “not now God I am too busy for you.”  There is no “not now God I have sports practice.”  There is no “not now God it’s not Sunday, and I only have time for you for an hour on Sunday.”  The answer is immediate, and that is the first sacrifice, we sacrifice our desire for that of God.

God asks Abraham to sacrifice what is most precious to him, his only son.  Now reading the story this might take us a back a little, why would God ask Abraham to sacrifice his son?  But we need to push on and keep reading for this is not the end of the story this is a prefiguring of what God is willing to sacrifice for all of us!

Just like when God called Abraham, he responds immediately and without hesitation to do what God was asking of him.  Abraham was willing to sacrifice his only son simply because God asked him too.

Abraham leads Isaac to the place of the sacrifice; he takes the wood for the fire that they brought with them and places it on the back of Isaac for his to carry to the place of his pending execution.  Along the way, Isaac asks his father where they animal is for the sacrifice and Abraham answers that God will provide the sacrifice.  This is all very symbolic language.  The wood on Isaac is the wood of the Cross and in the end God does provide the sacrifice, the perfect sacrifice, his only son!

Abraham passed the test that God had given him; he showed that he was willing to do whatever it was that he was being asked to do, and he did it without hesitation.  God is not asking us to sacrifice our children, but he is asking us to sacrifice a little time and our will.  God is asking that we crucify the will and passions of the flesh and live for him and him alone.

Are we ready to pass the test?

error: Content is protected !!