Ash Wednesday Noon
March 8, 2000
The Attitude of Testing
God tests Abraham’s faith by commanding him to sacrifice Isaac.
“Here I Am”
INTRODUCTION: There was once a commercial, which said: “Delta is ready when you are!” In our lesson for today Abraham is always ready when he is called and needed. In each case, he replies, “Here I am”. Abraham is always ready and willing to respond. He is always there when you need Him. What an example for us! When a job needs to be done, who will say, “Here I am”? When you need someone desperately to help in time of need, does the Christian say, “Here am I”?
A Christian is ready when called…
1. A Christian is ready when God calls. Vs. 1 tells us “Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." - The call of Abraham was a call to obey. True, it was an awesome task, to sacrifice his only Son. But clearly Abraham knew that the Lord would provide. Do we trust God at His Word? When summoned to obey God do we trust Him at His Word? Abraham trusted God at His Word. We can do nothing else. During this 40-day pilgrimage may we trust God at His Word. Following Him as we listen to His Word. When He speaks - we listen. When He commands - we follow. As He leads may we follow willingly, trusting in Him to will and to do what He has promised.
TRANSITION: The Christian is ready when God calls and listens to God. But we are also ready when we listen to the call of our neighbor. We are ready to say “here I am”…
2. When man calls. Vs. 7 tells us “And 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 was given a question to answer. Isaac had a legitimate question. Where is the lamb? Abraham could only tell his son what he knew to be true, that the Lord would provide. We live in a world in which many are searching for meaning in life and answers to their problems. Where are people to be directed? When seeking direction where do we lead people? Do we give them our own words, do we given them advice and words that we think they will want to hear? We must point people in only one direction and that is to the person of Jesus Christ. He is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Jesus. “Jesus is the answer for the world today” so goes the words of the old spiritual. May we point people to Jesus the joy of man’s desiring – Jesus our only hope in desperate times. During this 40-day period of Lent may we point people to Jesus our strength and our redeemer.
TRANSITION: We follow Christ and His word. We point people to Christ. We also say “here I am” when angels call.
3. When angels call. Vs. 11-12 says “But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." And he said, "Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me." – This angel of the Lord - The angel of the Lord is Jesus Himself who gives us a call to receive grace.
On that day Abraham’s son Isaac was spared and a lamb was provided. God would not spare His only Son. Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, was sent into this world to take away the sins of the world. The hymn tells us “A lamb goes uncomplaining forth, the guilt of all men bearing” That lamb was Jesus. He went to the cross to suffer and die. He went to the cross to take away our sin. He went to the cross to win for us salvation and life.
Conclusion: And that’s what Lent is all about! It’s about Jesus the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Lent is a time when we think about what Jesus did for you and for me. During this 40-day journey may we walk with Jesus as He makes His way to the cross on Good Friday. When He speaks to us in His word we will say with Abraham of old “Here I am” when others ask “who is this Jesus? We will say “here I am” to witness of what we know and what we have seen. When Jesus speaks we will say “Here I am” and He will simply say “I am with you always, even unto the end of the age!” In Jesus’ Name. Amen.