“After these things…” After what things? After all the things of Abraham’s life. Isn’t that a strange place to assign such a sacrificial test? Normally we would expect that a man would be tested in the beginning of his life – in the years when the sun is rising. Why then is Abraham subjected to such a sacrificial test at sunset? Why has the sacrificial hour been placed at the close of his life? Isn’t it normally expected that such test would come in the time when a man’s power of sacrifice would be the most accurate measure of him? The simple answer is “No. No it’s not.”
No doubt, that is the time of life that we hear the most about sacrifice. Young people are the ones who most often nurture the melancholy, who often devise for themselves terrific plans of self-sacrifice. But not much value is placed on the sacrifices of youth. Why is that? Because most feel that they are willing to give up that which they have never tasted.
You see, life doesn’t reveal its true beauty at the threshold. Life’s true beauty is only found after you’ve climbed the stairs. Youth’s romance is really just its search for another world. That’s why romance dies after life, because that’s when the things that are real become precious. So, it’s only when those things have become precious that the life of sacrifice is truly a life of unselfishness. The transfiguration must come before the cross. The gift that you give must first be dear to you before it can become sweet to its recipient. Before God tests Abraham He must appeal to the joy of Abraham’s heart, “Your son whom you love.”
Such was the Savior’s sacrifice. The life that He gave for me was not one that would have been considered light or inconsequential. His was not the pessimistic offering of a melancholy youth. It was not the giving of a withered and dried flower. He didn’t offer Himself to be rid of a barren world. He didn’t depart the earth because He no longer found joy in the beauty of His creation. He was crowned with glory and honor for His sacrifice.
The life that He willingly gave up was one of great beauty. He recognized its beauty and enjoyed it. He had tasted and enjoyed every pure delight before He was called to lay His life down. He had sat with the wise in the Temple. He had ministered to friends at a wedding. He had watched as the children played. He had enjoyed the fellowship of friends. He had felt the warmth and love of family. He had experienced the value of human devotion. Every good door of life had been opened to Him. So, it wasn’t because life was poor or not worth living that He climbed the cross and willingly sacrificed Himself. He climbed and He died because His great love for me.
That’s why I would climb and offer myself for Him – for love. I wouldn’t seek Heaven because I despised earth, I would bring the treasures of this world with me. I would not wing my way to Him in my heart’s winter. I desire to come while the green grass and lush leaves of summer remain. I would come with a blooming rose, a ripe fruit, the sweetest songs of the day. I would willingly break my alabaster box when it was full, not when it is empty. Thus, my sacrifice would be a sacrifice of praise.