We are in what is called “holy week.” Christians have just celebrated Palm Sunday and next week is Easter Sunday. The time between the two is considered the week of the Passion of the Lord. The reality of His suffering made evident and public.
Many Christians will look back to the exodus of the Hebrew children from Egypt. And it is a most appropriate time to remember and be reminded of the sacrificial lamb’s blood that was applied to the doorposts of the homes of those God was about to set free from bondage and slavery. Yet, there is imagery BEFORE that event that speaks to Jesus and His sacrifice that we should consider these days before Easter.
I am currently going through an exposition of Genesis at our church and we are into the life of Abram (He will later be called Abraham) he is a man that God called out of paganism and made a covenant with him. Abram’s life was filled with failure and faults as his relationship with God matures. Abram is very much like you and me.
And in Genesis 22 we have an older Abraham that has walked with the Lord for many years now. He has seen God’s promises and he has seen God be faithful over and over again in his years since he was first called out of his land and away from the people he knew too well.
Abraham, the father of the entire Jewish nation, was told by God to take his one and only son, Isaac, and sacrifice him on Mount Moriah. (Genesis 22:1-14) This is the son that Abram knows is a promise from God. Abram’s hopes and dreams are with this young man. God has just asked Abram to sacrifice him.
It is an interesting portion of history because Issac, who went with his father when asked to, to go make a sacrifice unto the Lord, was wondering where the lamb was that was to be sacrificed.
7 But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” So the two of them went together. (Genesis 22:7-8 NKJV)
God did provide a sacrifice. There was a ram caught in the thicket. A ram crowned with thorns. An image of what we New Testament Christians understand to be a type and shadow of the our Savior Christ Jesus. He became the sacrifice for our sins.
This week, from Palm Sunday, when crowds are yelling praise to Jesus as he enters the city to Friday, when the scream for “crucify Him, crucify Him” begins, is a glorious reminder of man wickedness and God’s great grace.
That Jesus, the one and only son of God, would leave the benefits of heaven, that he would wrap his divinity in humanity and humbly enter this would as a baby. A helpless innocent child, much like the little lambs that were raised in Bethlehem to be used for Passover. He, too, was born to die. He lived a perfect, sinless and holy life that no man or woman has ever come close to. Jesus truly is the “Lamb of God that could take away the sins of the world.” He was perfect. Never broke one single commandment. Jesus, only Jesus, ever met the requirements of the law.
And this week as he entered into Jerusalem, he still showed great mercy and compassion on the very people that would reject him. But not all did. And we do not need to either. Jesus still is the lamb of God that brings salvation. His blood was shed so that salvation could be shared. Christ Jesus endured the punishment you and I deserve for our sins against the wrath of the Just and Holy God of Glory. When our sin separated us, Jesus took God’s wrath against sin upon himself. His flesh bore what our sins deserved and God, in mercy and grace, showed to us that sin’s debt was paid by Him. We could never pay or make up for our sins. And to prove that God’s wrath against sin was paid, and it was on a hill called Calvary which is Mount Moriah in the Old Testament, we know that Jesus rose from the dead three days later to New Life and that is what he offers you and I when we turn from our sin, (repent), and trust (have faith) in what Jesus accomplished.
7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.
(1 Corinthians 5:7)
May the mercy of Christ Jesus, through the work of the Holy Spirit, open our eyes to the Greatness of the Father and what was done so that we could have forgiveness, eternal life and relationship with God once again. For when we understand the Gospel, we will indeed have a glorious Resurrection Sunday!
The writer is the pastor of the Cornerstone Church in Sidney.