The Great Gift

Genesis 22

Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place from a distance. Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship and return to you.” Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son, and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” And he said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together.

“God will provide for Himself the lamb.” Basically, Abraham said to Isaac, “God will provide the sacrifice.” We all know the rest of the story. God did indeed provide the sacrifice. After the angel of the Lord stopped Abraham from sacrificing the life of his son Isaac on the altar, Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught in some bushes by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and sacrificed it instead. Afterwards, Abraham called that place, “The Lord Will Provide.”

The ram was sacrificed in Isaac’s place and was a foreshadow of Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross. By providing the sacrifice, God gave Abraham a gift, the gift of life, the life of his son.

Two thousand years ago, God gave all of humanity a great gift. But before a gift can actually be considered a gift, two things must happen. First, someone must give. That’s been taken care of. God gave His son who in turn gave His life for us. God provided the sacrifice. The other thing that has to happen for a gift to become a gift is that it must be received. Until the gift is received, it is only an offer and it’s an offer that’s only good in this lifetime. We can do nothing to earn the gift and that’s good news because we could never do enough to earn it. That’s why we call it grace. And it’s grace that saves us; God’s gift of grace. It is the greatest possible gift we could have ever hoped for and it’s received through faith in Jesus Christ.

Have you ever received a box at Christmas or on your birthday and opened it and discovered not just one gift inside, but several? As we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ this coming Sunday, let’s look closely at how much is packed into this gift of grace. When we open the package, we find not just one gift, but many.

There are the many lessons Jesus taught while He lived on earth. God could have forsaken sinful mankind, but He didn’t. He gave us His son and He gave us the Holy Bible with all its truths and principles to guide us and help us live God honoring lives.

There was Jesus’ willingness to suffer the punishment we deserve, which put his gift of love on display for all to see and was so vividly described by the prophet Isaiah: .

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

And of course, there is the gift of salvation and redemption through His death on the cross.

But perhaps the greatest of all the gifts that came packaged with the gift of grace, the reason we celebrate Easter Sunday, is the resurrection. Without the resurrection, there is no Christian faith. There is no hope. But Jesus did defeat death. In the 11th chapter of the gospel of John, Jesus spoke these words of eternal life: I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;  and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. That is our hope. That is God’s great gift of grace!