Summary: 2008 Palm Sunday Message
(Slide 1) As I reflected on the dramatic reading this week, I remembered a visual presentation of a familiar story that I saw this past week that reminds us that little things can make a big difference.
‘A philosophy professor stood before his class and had some items in front of him. When class began, wordlessly he picked up a large empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks, rocks about 2" in diameter.
He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was. So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks.
He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was but still laughed. The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.
"Now," said the professor, "I want you to recognize that this is your life. The rocks are the important things - your family, your health, your children - anything that is so important to you that if it were lost, you would be nearly destroyed.
"The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, your car.
"The sand is everything else. The small stuff.
"If you put the sand into the jar first, there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your energy and time on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.’
‘If you spend all your energy and time on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.’
Small things add up. They fill spaces in our lives that tend to squeeze out the more important things. Sand can bury a car, a house, or a person. Grains of sand are very small but when they are combined with a large number of other grains of sand, it is a force to be reckoned with.
Sand also irritates. How many times at the beach have you had sand in your eyes? It is not a pleasant thing, is it?
It is often the small things that hurt us worse than the bigger things we deem important and necessary. The small things though do add up over a period of time and they soon consume us, our relationships, even our faith. They can become burdens that drain us of faith, hope, and love.
But, in our text for this morning, what Abraham faced was not small stuff, it was a major crisis. God was asking him to do something that seemed impossible. He was being asked to sacrifice, to kill, his son on whom he had waited many, many years as we read in our main text, Genesis 22:1-18 (Slide 2)
Later on God tested Abraham’s faith and obedience. “Abraham!” God called. “Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.”
“Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will point out to you.”
The next morning Abraham got up early. He saddled his donkey and took two of his servants with him, along with his son Isaac. Then he chopped wood to build a fire for a burnt offering and set out for the place where God had told him to go. On the third day of the journey, Abraham saw the place in the distance. “Stay here with the donkey,” Abraham told the young men. “The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back.”
Abraham placed the wood for the burnt offering on Isaac’s shoulders, while he himself carried the knife and the fire. As the two of them went on together, Isaac said, “Father?”
“Yes, my son,” Abraham replied. “We have the wood and the fire,” said the boy, “but where is the lamb for the sacrifice?” “God will provide a lamb, my son,” Abraham answered. And they both went on together.
When they arrived at the place where God had told Abraham to go, he built an altar and placed the wood on it. Then he tied Isaac up and laid him on the altar over the wood. And Abraham took the knife and lifted it up to kill his son as a sacrifice to the LORD. At that moment the angel of the LORD shouted to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Yes,” he answered. “I’m listening.”
“Lay down the knife,” the angel said. “Do not hurt the boy in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld even your beloved son from me.”