Thursday, December 25, 2014

Only Sacrifice Makes Love Meaningful

love and sacrifce

( *This post was originally published in 2010)

Reading: Genesis 22:1-18

In this passage we see the only story in the Bible that mirrors the birth and death of Christ. Abraham so loved God that he gave his only son in sacrifice to God (He had another son with Hagar, the Egyptian bond woman, called Ishmael but he had sent them away earlier in Genesis 21).

Later in John 3:16, we would read: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Again we see God giving His Son. But was it just His Son that He gave?

Let us return to our passage to answer this question. In Genesis 22:3, we see Abraham’s extensive preparation for the sacrifice he was going to make, but in Genesis 22:7 we see that he had seeming overlooked a vital ingredient. Isaac asks the question of all ages “Where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”

Many of us want to show God that we love Him. We want to make sacrifices to Him; but we often stop at this point; “where is the lamb for the sacrifice?”

Abraham here answered: - “God Himself shall provide for Himself the Lamb for a burnt offering.” We could also write his answer omitting the “for” thus giving us “God will provide Himself, the Lamb, for the burnt offering.”  Both translations are theologically and linguistically correct. If it is the first, the fulfillment is found in verse 13 when Abraham saw the ram in the thicket of the bush and used it for the sacrifice. That was why Abraham renamed the place “Jehovah Jireh” – The Lord will provide.

If it is the second without the “for”, we have to wait till John 1:29 to hear John the Baptist proclaim: "Behold; the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” David had earlier proclaimed that “The Lord is my Shepherd”; Jesus would confirm this by making the Shepherd and the Lamb to meet in one person when He says: “I am the good Shepherd, the Shepherd dies for His sheep” (John 10:11). The only way that the good Shepherd can show his love for His sheep is to die for the sheep. That is love. That is Christmas. That is Good Friday. That is the Christian Hallelujah!

We can also answer Isaac’s question by looking at it as Paul said in Romans 12:1 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service”. This is yielding our whole selves to God in service. This is sacrifice of love. It is not just the heart nor the head, but the whole body. This body has to be yielded alive. It has to be holy and acceptable and then and only then, can it be considered a reasonable service.

Read More: What Are You Giving to God, Sacrifice or Offering?

The question this Christmas morning, as we all rejoice in what God has done in giving us His all in love,  is what has been your answer to God’s test of your love? When God asked Abraham to show his love for Him, Abraham made a sacrifice of what was uppermost in his heart – the son of his love. God showed us a better sacrifice when He gave Himself; The Shepherd becoming the Lamb and dying for the sheep.

Over the years, our reaction to Christmas has been one-sided – “God shall provide a lamb for Himself for burnt offering”. Let us this year, consider our responsibility in the sacrifice of love. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service”. God’s mercies to enable us do this in this Christmas season and the coming New Year are abundantly sufficient and available. May the Lord help us as we celebrate rightly Christmas in love!

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