Revelations from the Word

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The parable of the sacrifice of Isaac

by Jean-Louis Coraboeuf

"Jesus answered: If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing. It is My father who glorifies Me, He who you say is your God, and whom you do not know… as for Me, I know Him; and, if I were to say that I did not know Him, I would be like you, a liar. But I know Him, and I keep His word. Abraham, your father, rejoiced in that he would see my day: he has seen it, and he has rejoiced. The Jews said to Him: You are not yet fifty years old, and You have seen Abraham! Jesus said to them: Truly, truly 'I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM'" (John 8:54-58).

The author of the Letter to the Hebrews considered the sacrifice of Abraham as a parable, "He considered that God was capable of raising the dead; also, in a figurative sense [parabole], he found his son again" (Hebrews 11:19 Interlinear). In fact, the parable is an allegorical story used to teach a truth. God says to Abraham, "It is from Isaac that descendants will issue who will be your own" (Genesis 21:12), that is why the latter believed that God was Almighty to bring back to life his only son and did not hesitate in accepting the sacrifice that God was asking of him.

The Pharisees who claimed to be the descendants of Abraham, did not recognise the divinity of Jesus, Son of the God of Abraham, who had just affirmed Himself as "I AM" in the Temple (John 8:27). Jesus had not sought His own glory, but received the glory of His Father by carrying out His works and proclaiming the Truth. That is why he spoke of the joy of Abraham who saw the completion of the parable of which he was himself involuntarily the author. Abraham received the promise of descendants as numerous as the stars of the heavens and the grains of sand of the sea shore (Genesis 15:5-6 and Genesis 22:17). God tested his faith by Him asking him to offer his only son who would be the source of these descendants… that is why he confirmed to Jacob, "I will give you back your descendants like the gains of sand on the shore" (Genesis 32:12).

At the appointed time, God sent His only Son in order that he might be the firstborn of a new generation that is as numerous as the stars of heaven, for Jesus is "the morning star, which rises in our hearts" (2 Peter 1:19). Abraham was prepared to sacrifice his only son thereby showing his faith in God, but Jesus, by His faith in God, sacrificed Himself as the only Son of God in order to obtain righteousness for all men. Indeed, "the righteousness of God is obtained by the faith of Jesus Christ, for all believers" (Romans 3:22 Interlinear).

Like Abraham, Jesus had confidence in His Father to raise Him from the dead. Abraham was able to rejoice in the heavenly realms for he saw in that way his descendants becoming as numerous as the grains of sand (of earthly origin) take possession of the Promised Land, and he now sees in Jesus Christ these descendants becoming as numerous as the stars (of heavenly origin).