Summary: Isaac carried the wood; Jesus carried the wood; and in both cases, Father and Son walked on together.
Before we turn to the passage of our study today, I feel we must first look at a couple of other verses of scripture.
Turn with me to the book of Genesis, chapter 22, verse 6 and let’s read.
“AND 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.”
This verse is from the account of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, his only son.
To test him, God had told Abraham to take his son to the mountain and to sacrifice him there.
It is from this account that both Paul and the writer to the Hebrews take their evidence to assert that Abraham was declared right before God because of his faith. (For your later reading, those passages are found in the 4th chapter of Romans, and Hebrews 11:17-19)
There is much to tell from this story, but our focus is on verse 6 of Genesis 22. Isaac carried the wood for his own sacrifice, up the mountain.
Now, the biblical account is brief, but there is an extra-biblical account of this incident, from which we can gather some very inspirational information.
The first century historian, Josephus, is considered even by secular historians and archeologists who are not really interested in the scriptures themselves, to be one of the most accurate historians of all time. Josephus was a Jew who wrote specifically of the history of the Jews; but within the parameters of his study, he was meticulous.
Josephus tells us that Isaac was about twenty five years old at the time God gave Abraham instructions for this sacrifice.
This is important to note, since a twenty five year old man could easily have resisted had he been so inclined. This was not a small boy, as is so often portrayed in Sunday School materials and taught to our own children. This was a strong, healthy young man with much of his life yet to come; marriage, children, pursuit of all the usual priorities of this earthly life; yet he willingly carried the wood.
Here is a quote from Josephus, who apparently had documentation available to him that has long since been lost to his posterity, but he recorded it for us in his compilings. I’ve taken the liberty of paraphrasing it slightly for smoother reading and better understanding, but I have not changed the essence. It is Isaac’s response to his father’s announcement of what God had instructed him to do. According to this historian, Isaac said:
“I was not worthy to be born in the first place, if I would reject the plan and will of God and my own father, and not give myself up willing to both their pleasures. Even if this was the will of you alone, my father, it would be wrong to disobey.” And from there he went immediately up to the altar.
Isaac trusted his father to be obeying God’s will, and not only did he go willingly, he carried the wood!
Now, God did not ultimately require such a dear price from Abraham. He stopped Abraham from slaying his son, and provided a ram for the sacrifice; a type of the Christ to come, who would be God’s own sacrifice to redeem mankind back to Himself.
But Abraham had passed the test of faith, and Isaac had certainly passed a test of obedience; obedience even to death.
Now turn with me to the gospel of John, chapter 19, verse 17.
“THEY TOOK JESUS THEREFORE, AND HE WENT OUT, BEARING HIS OWN CROSS, TO THE PLACE CALLED THE PLACE OF THE SKULL, WHICH IS CALLED IN HEBREW, GOLGOTHA.”
First, I want us to see that it was God’s will that Christ should go to the cross and die.
Isaiah, prophesying of the Messiah said, “But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.”
The Father was pleased to send His Son to Calvary’s cross, for to Him the purchase was dearer even than the cost.
In John 18:11 Jesus called His impending crucifixion, “the cup which the Father has given Me”
And in Romans 8 Paul tells us that God sent His own Son as an offering for sin, and “condemned sin in the flesh”; meaning that while Christ hung on the cross, the Father laid all the guilt of sin for all time on Him, and judged sin, there in the person of His Son...in the flesh.
So who crucified Christ? Was it the Romans for fear? Was it the Jews for envy? Was it Judas for money? No to all three. It was God, for love.