Day 5

O Come, Perfect Substitute

Genesis 22:1-18, Romans 6:23, Luke 23:44-46, 1 John 4:7-9, 2 Corinthians 5:21

Nicholas Wolterstorff, former professor of philosophical theology at Yale University, once wrote the following heart-wrenching words while reflecting on the death of his son:

“I do not try to put it behind me, to get over it, to forget it. If someone asks, ‘Who are you? Tell me about yourself,’ I say—not immediately, but shortly—’I am one who lost a son.’”

Only those who have lost a child know the depth of such a loss. Imagine how Abraham must have felt when God commanded him to offer up his son Isaac as a sacrifice. Yet, there was divine purpose in God’s seemingly tragic command—a foreshadowing of what the Father and the Son had planned to do for our redemption. As the Apostle Paul captures it in Romans 8:32, “He did not even spare His own Son but offered him up for us all. How will he not also with him grant us everything?”

The foretaste of the cross echoed out from Mt. Moriah when Isaac asked his father, “Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” and Abraham immediately responded assuring him, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son” (Genesis 22:7–8). This is the language of substitution, a principle which is then symbolized in the ram caught in the thicket. All of this was a foreshadowing of the Son crowned with thorns, the symbol of our sin and rebellion in Adam. Jesus is the sacrificial lamb who stands in the place of His people on the cross. He was the Son who would willingly sacrifice Himself at the command of His Father for the sin of His people (John 10:17).

The comfort of the gospel comes to us in the most powerful way when we consider that “God sent his one and only Son into the world so that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9). Jesus stood in our place for our sin. The Father gave up His only begotten Son so that he might bring many sons and daughters to glory. For all of eternity, God the Father will forever be praised for giving up His Son for the redemption of His people. And the Son will forever be praised for giving Himself in the place of His people.

Written by Nick Batzig

Post Comments (12)

12 thoughts on "O Come, Perfect Substitute"

  1. Brad Griffith says:

    I think I am so familiar with the idea of Jesus as substitute that I have to work against it being too familiar. I need to recall today the depths of this beauty; I need to meditate today on Jesus coming into the world to be my substitute for sin. Indeed, God provided a Lamb who was slain, and I have walked free.

  2. Kevin says:

    Day 5: I can’t imagine what it was like for Abraham to have thought he was about to sacrifice his own son. Sometimes to me it’s even crazy to think that that could have been a command from God. But it was and Abraham knew it and obeyed. Talk about faith man this would be such a hard situation! But God is constant and in Abraham’s obedience, spares his son and gives him a ram, which I’m pretty sure is of higher stature that a regular lamb as a burnt offering. What’s God asking you to give up to him? Could be big, could be small. He wants our lives and not just parts of it. Be faithful in giving it to the Lord because he will use it for the kingdom. ⚒

  3. Jeff M. says:

    The passage from Genesis never ceases to blow me away and humble me out of my pride. The angel of the Lord says to Abraham, “now I know that you fear the Lord…you were willing to give your son, your only son, the son whom you love.” Abraham, like myself, perhaps hadn’t realized the weight of love and hope he had placed in Isaac, as I far too often and quickly put my hope in the things of this world. Yet, when I sense God calling me to give it or them up, I’m terrified and even angry. In short, I think I know better. My pride leads me to believe I own my life, that I can run my life, that God can’t ask THAT of me.

    The lengths that Christ would go to give Himself for us shatters my sense of entitlement and the sense of innate goodness within me (maybe just the belief that I am competent to run my own life). He who knew no sin, He who had perfect communion with the Father, would come to the earth in the most humble form as a baby, putting on the weaknesses of flesh, stepping into the muck of my sin and filth, and giving up Himself that I may know Him and have perfect communion with the Father one day too. What love and what grace!!

    My sin is serious…it’s not weak and it’s not safe. The wages of my sin is death…but God. But God being rich in mercy, gave Himself to pay for my sin, and now I can receive the free gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus!

  4. Sam H says:

    Just thinking about sacrificing your son like Abraham was asked to do is gut wrenching. My little boy is 10 months and the fleeting thought of that ever being asked of me is not pleasant. It put Abraham into a whole new light for me. He wanted to be faithful above all. He loved his son very much. But he loved God more. Then God, he sacrificed His Son for our sale is tremendous. A people undeserving of a second chance end up receiving the opportunity for far beyond that. They receive the blood of Christ that reconciles us to Living God.

  5. Jace Martinez says:

    The story of Abraham almost killing his son Isaac is a story I often struggle with. Why would God command someone to kill their own son, even if his true intent is for him to live? I do understand however that what Abraham did was a testament to his faith in God. He gave God complete control over the fate of his son. And I can tell you, it is a scary thing to give something to God that you hold dear.

  6. Justin Harger says:

    The concept of time comes to mind as I read these passages. Our God is beyond time – eternal, everlasting, alpha and omega, beginning and end. As such He goes beyond just remembering the past, He is the past. Likewise the present and the future.

    When God told Abraham to sacrifice his son, God did so with the full knowledge of everything that would happen to His son, Jesus. It is no surprise that God would show Abraham mercy, spare his son, and write a redemptive story from it. After all, it’s exactly what He did with His son, but with another dose of mercy.

    Jesus was the perfect sacrifice as we all know. We didn’t deserve it, but just because we don’t deserve a gift, doesn’t mean we should take it for granted. We cheapen His sacrifice every day though. When we refuse to forgive, don’t trust He will come through for us, even when we feel guilty after He forgives us. There is nothing more that needs to be done. Sin was finished on the cross. Let’s leave it there and follow God wherever He calls us. It’s the least we can do and everything He wants us to do!

  7. Jonathan Hernandez says:

    Something that stood out to me that Jesus’s final breath was the perfect substitution for us as well. His final breath provides the way for us to live in eternity with Him in heaven. His final breath paved the way. His FINAL breath is just so crazy to me. I know Jesus died in the cross and I know he sacrificed himself but the air in His lungs was precious and when He breathed that final breath it was done and our sins were forgiven.

  8. Tanner Menard says:

    Wow. This passage hit me in a new and fresh way this morning.
    When I think of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac and the commitment to God that this shows, I must not lose sight that this is a direct parallel to what God has done for me. Not only that, but on a much grandeur scale. As scripture says: for if God is willing to sacrifice his own son, what would He not also grant us?
    Truly amazing to think of the magnitude of this sacrifice, and the image it begins to show of Gods truly immense love for me.

  9. 144 Man says:

    I’m struck by the incredible symbolism between Abraham and his son and the Father and his son Jesus. Both gave – willingly their only son – in acts of sacrificial giving. Wood. Life. What am I to lay down for You Lord? What is my “only begotten?”

  10. Sean says:

    The ram caught in the thicket…the Son crowned with thorns. Pierced for our transgressions, the perfect (and only possible) substitute. All praise King Jesus!

  11. Ryan Miller says:

    I think this is the first time I’ve ever really understood the already not yet nature of Abraham’s statement… God indeed will provide for Himself a lamb. Wow

  12. Joshua H. says:

    As God saved Isaac, he sent Jesus to save us from sin.

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