Sacrifice | Mark 15
As I pause and reflect on Jesus’ crucifixion this year, I am reminded of a story in Genesis. Yes, Genesis. Already in the very first book of the Bible, God foreshadowed His rescue plan. The rescue we remember today. From the very beginning, God knew what our redemption would require.
In Genesis 22, we read about a father, his beloved son, and a sacrifice.
Abraham, often called “Father Abraham,” lived a century before becoming a father. God had promised him and his wife, Sarah, a child in their old age, and Isaac was the fulfillment of that promise. He was the child through whom Abraham’s family would “become a great and powerful nation” (Gen 18:18). The child who through whom “all the people of the earth” would be blessed (Gen 12:3).
God knew this, and yet, one day God called Abraham to do the unthinkable.
“Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.’” (Genesis 22:2)
Your only son.
The son you love.
The son I promised.
Can you imagine Abraham’s anguish? The wrestling? The tears?
The Bible does not record Abraham’s experience that night before setting off to make his sacrifice, but I wouldn’t be surprised if his prayers sounded similar to Jesus’ prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane.
"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me…” (Luke 22:42)
Merriam Webster defines sacrifice as “the destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else.”
There are no shortcuts to surrender.
Something must die in order for a sacrifice to be made.
Abraham knew this, and so, after what must have been the longest night of his life, he rose “early the next morning,” and, “set out for the place God had told him about.”
After three long days of walking, Abraham and Isaac came to the place where the sacrifice was to take place.
There, as they went up to build the altar, Isaac asked the question he must have been wondering the entire journey.
“The fire and wood are here … but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” (Gen 22:7b)
Can you imagine the weight of that moment? It must have all but crushed Abraham.
Yet, in the midst of the pain and the sorrow he replies, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”
“God himself will provide.”
And God did provide that day on Mt. Moriah.
At the very last moment, as Abraham “took the knife to slay his son,” the angel of the Lord called out and commanded Abraham to stop.
As Abraham lowered the knife to his side, a ram rustled in a nearby thicket.
Can you feel the relief as Abraham cut the knots that held Isaac on the altar and placed the ram on the altar instead of his son?
After sacrificing the ram, Abraham named the place “The Lord Will Provide.”
The LORD provided that day on Mt. Moriah, but His full provision, His complete sacrifice, was yet to be made.
A ram was sacrificed in place of Isaac, but God had promised a lamb.
“Where is the lamb?”
Isaac’s question echoed for centuries. Jews continued sacrificing lambs year after year to atone for their sin. (Hebrews 10:1)
Then, one year, on Passover, the Lord provided.
Once and for all.
Like Abraham, God the Father walked with his only son, up a hill, to make the ultimate sacrifice.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Can you imagine God the Father’s pain and anguish as Jesus was crucified? His beloved, only son.
It’s unthinkable, unfathomable, but it was the sacrifice God was willing to make.
That is the good of Good Friday.
God provided a lamb, the pure spotless Lamb of God, to take our place.
Hallelujah, what a Savior.