Wow, this blog has languished for quite some time! The Holy Day seasons are always busy times, and this year has been no exception to that rule. Still, I thought I would add a comment here about something that I’ve been thinking about recently as Passover approaches.
Most of us are familiar with the tale of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac at God’s command. What we don’t often take into account is that Isaac and Abraham were both likely of such ages that Isaac could have physically resisted his father’s attempts to bind him if he chose to do so, Isaac most likely being a young man at the time and Abraham most certainly being what we’ll strategically call not a young man (or, as Paul said, a man “as good as dead”). So, really, the tale is not only about Abraham’s faith and selfless submission to God but about Isaac’s, as well.
Most of us are also likely aware that the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham, however aborted it was at the end, is a type of the experience God the Father and Jesus Christ would go through several thousand years later, as God offered up His only Son, as well. In asking Abraham to go through this ordeal, He was qualifying him as the “Father of the Faithful,” in a sense, looking to see if Abraham would be willing to do, on a human level, what God, Himself, was going to do later. Abraham — probably tested at the very limits of his character — was so willing.
God’s response is important: “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me” (Genesis 22:12).
Essentially, Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son and Isaac’s willingness to be that sacrifice taught God something very important about the utter completeness of their love and devotion to Him and the vast depth of their commitment to Him.
That said, doesn’t it work the other way around, too? Doesn’t God the Father’s willingness to sacrifice His Son and Jesus Christ’s willingness to be that sacrifice teach us something very important about the utter completeness of Their love and devotion to us and the vast depth of Their commitment to us?
It does. And meditating on that should bring us to the same conclusion as Paul, regardless of our current state in life:
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
“Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.’
“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The days that follow the Passover — the Days of Unleavened Bread — take a bit of courage to prepare for. To truly “deleaven” your life, as opposed to just your house, takes courage. In order to remove sin, you must be willing to see it there, and many do not have the courage to face the truth about themselves that honestly.
But reflecting on the lesson that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ should teach us about the depth of God’s love for us should inspire within us that courage, reminding us of just how committed God the Father and Jesus Christ are to seeing us in their Kingdom to spend eternity with them as a part of their glorious Family, forever. It should remind us of their willingness not only to forgive us of whatever “leaven” or sin that we discover in ourselves as we face the truth about who we are, but also to live within us to complete that work of righteousness until the coming of Christ (Phil. 1:6) — so that we grow to reflect Them in choices, character, and nature more and more, day by day, until at the resurrection we mirror Them perfectly (cf. 1 John 3:1-3).
I hope that — as God said of Abraham after seeing the extent of his devotion seeing, as it were, with His own eyes — we, too, will be able to reflect this Passover on the extent of our Father and Elder Brother’s devotion to us and say, each one of us, “Now I know.”