Sunday, March 1, 2009

Lent 1

Today's readings were Genesis 22:1-18 (sermon text), James 1:12-18, and Mark 1:9-15.

God's leading, showing, and testing of His children are the focus of today's readings. People are taken into the wilderness from their comfort zones. How do they hold up? How did Abraham, for that matter, hold up? God had told him that he would be the ancestor of the Messiah; Isaac ("laughter") then arrived; finally, God asked for the death of this only son of Abraham (!). Abraham obeyed Him nonetheless, trusting that somehow God would always pull through and keep His promise.

We usually begin Lent by focusing on sacrifice. We give up something for the season to remind us that the substitutionary Sacrifice that He makes is the true focus.

What of Isaac's trust in his father? He carried the wood for his own sacrifice, not knowing what God had asked. How does God's promise in Jeremiah 29:11 fit with this? He did indeed pull through. He may ask us to sacrifice something precious to us as well; sacrifice in the Israelites' time involved bloodshed to remind of sin's consequences.

God provided a "ram" - a male sheep, acceptable for sacrifice. What of Jesus being the "Lamb"? A ram was simply the more perfect version. Looking at Jesus Christ as the Sacrifice, we see that He is indeed perfect, having conquered all temptation for us. God's intention was for Him to be tempted - and to resist it. Now we can pray for faith also to resist Satan's ever-specific temptations. We indeed are led through the wilderness. But we do not walk alone, for we cannot manage on our own. We need Jesus.

If any of you, dear readers, are without Christ, please think on this.

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