A Better Abraham: Our Father’s Love Story

The resurrection conveys to us images. Images of the cross, of the empty tomb, and of Christ in resurrected glory, standing as victor. But while we do well on the morning of Resurrection Day (Easter) to recall such momentous acts contained in Christ’s passion, we also want to remember how the resurrection testifies of an unfathomable love the Father has for us. The resurrection is as much about the Father’s passion for us, as it is the Son. He is the true and better Abraham, who in giving His only begotten Son on the hill, now adopts an everlasting household unto Himself. Not having to sacrifice any adopted children to judgment, a number as great as the stars in the sky, because He offered His own Son for our sake.

God the Father, had chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world, desiring for us to be both holy and blameless before Him (Ephesians 1:4). It was a Father’s love that prepared us for the adoption we now have received through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:5). Yet long before Christ’s resurrection roughly 2,000 years ago, our Father’s household looked fairly barren. A pure mockery in many respects. If Sarah found reason to laugh at God’s promise to her and her husband Abraham (Genesis 18:12), how much more reason could the scoffers of this world and the devil and demons find, to mock the condition of the Father’s people? An example of this can be found in Zachariah 3. Even God’s own word in places such as Ezekiel 16 make clear, the people of God are an adulterous people prone to infidelity. Our condition outside of the Father’s plan of salvation is one of whoredom, not wholesomeness.

So, we in the Old Testament see a fatherly God, whose wealth and riches are not finite like Abraham’s, but are without measure (Jeremiah 3:19). Yet on the earth if we survey the land before the incarnation, our Father in heaven after the fall, was without a true obedient son on earth (Malachi 2:10). Sons of the first man, after sons, after sons, all came and went, and all of them fell short of the glory of God. Generation after generation this continued. They were all broken image bearers (Romans 3:9-20). It then, should be of little surprise that the New Testament begins not with John 1 (an abbreviated retelling of the creation account), but rather with Matthew 1’s genealogy, which serves to remind us that while covenant promises were made to Abraham and David, for generation after generation this endless cycle of death and failure has reigned. What a pleasing triumph the birth of Christ is for the Father’s name in light of the world’s setting at the onset of the incarnation.

I find it helpful, in order to begin contemplating the infinite pleasure of the Father when looking on His own Son, Jesus Christ as incarnate Lord, to consider the joy Abraham would have had when he first laid eyes on Isaac his Son (Genesis 21:1-7). If we consider moments like this and magnify them to the depths of infinity, we begin to scrape the surface of how greatly satisfying the Son’s earthly ministry and mission was to the Father who sent Him in love (John 3:16). The Father watched as His own Son brought life to the lifeless wilderness of the world. It is no wonder that the Father’s voice audibly broke through the Heavens on the day of Christ’s baptism declaring, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased!” (Matthew 3:17) How could He not be well pleased? How could He not ring out from the heavens in celebration of His Son? Or likewise when the Father speaks about the Son at the transfiguration. Peter had been busy implying that Jesus is equal to Moses and Elijah in Matthew 17:4, and the Father seeing this misstep immediately comes upon them (v.5) in a bright cloud, overshadowing them and states, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; (and then commands to Peter, James, and John) Listen to Him”.

Yet this pleasing Son, whom the Father delighted in during Christ’s ministry, was made incarnate for the redemptive apex established before the foundation of the world (John 17:1-26). A redemption which would make the most beautiful thing God ever knitted together, the bodily vessel of the Son – for a time, an abhorrent thing. Paul through the Holy Spirit testifies of this great exchange in 2 Corinthians 5:21, when he writes, “For our sake He (the Father) made Him (Christ) to be sin, who knew no sin. So that in Him (Christ) we might become the righteousness of God”. This was a redemption which would require not only God the Father to stay silent as the Son cried out upon the cross the opening words of Psalm 22, “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). But notice that the Son in that moment, who had never shied away from calling the Father, Father, is so consumed in wrath and judgment that He uses the more general God rather than Father. Christ in enduring the judgment we deserved called the Father, God, so that we might, through adoption into the heavenly household address our God, as Father.

Greater love has never been seen, then by our Triune God at the cross, who never wavered with His plan. While Abraham heard a word stopping the sacrifice of the infinitely less righteous son, Isaac, no word from the Father stays the hand of judgment, from striking down His Son (the infinitely greater Isaac). That thought is worth repeating. No word from the Father, who from all eternity loved His Son, stayed the hand of judgment striking down Christ. And why? Why did the Father offer no word of mercy? Because He desired to adopt a great household of sons and daughters to Himself. Christ in holding the many sins of you and I on that cross, magnifies, not just the Son’s love for us, but also the great cost and love of our Father, to show grace to you and me. So, while Protestants often state on Resurrection Day, “He is risen” and we respond, “He is risen indeed!”, let us not forget Christ’s rising also testifies of the Father’s love story. We are so loved by our Father, that He gave you and I Christ.

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