"After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, 'Abraham!' And he said, 'Here I am.' He said, 'Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.'"
God tested Abraham. The tests God brings into my life seem so trivial compared to this test of Abraham. But, all of God's tests are ultimately the same. The question of each test is "Do you trust Me?" The test of sacrificing Issac is God asking Abraham "Do you trust me with your future?" God told Abraham His promise flowed through Isaac. Abraham believed that promise and sent Ishmael away. Now God is testing Abraham's obedience by asking him to lay his future on His altar. Hebrews 11:17–19 tells us Abraham believed God was able to raise Isaac from the dead to fulfill His promise. The question to us is "Am I as trusting of God and His promises as Abraham? "
"And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, 'Who is this?' And the crowds said, 'This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.'"
Throughout the Gospels, there is an ongoing debate about who Jesus is. In most of these discussions, there is an element of truth. Just as in this passage, the crowd declares Jesus to be a prophet. Obviously, He is a prophet, but He is much more. It is rare during Jesus' life on earth for Him to be seen and known in the completeness of who He is. Am I guilty of the same thing? Have I settled for knowing the easily seen Jesus without pursuing a deep relationship?
Jesus, my Lord, and my God, please forgive me for seeing You in part but not the whole. I want to know You as fully as You desire to be understood. Please, Holy Spirit, strengthen my eyes, my mind, and my heart to know Jesus.
This passage has always raised many questions for me. Since these disciples are speaking through the Spirit, why does Paul not take their counsel? Were they, in fact, warning him not to go to Jerusalem? Or was the Spirit allowing them to understand what lay before Paul as confirmation of what was to happen? As the Spirit speaks to individuals, can they interpret the insight differently?
In Acts 20:22-23, Paul tells the Ephesians "I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me." Not only does this passage cause me to have questions, but it also reminds me of Jesus as he goes to Jerusalem knowing more than imprisonment and afflictions await Him. Luke 9:51 says "He set His face to go to Jerusalem." Many translations add the adjective steadfastly or resolutely to describe Jesus' resolve to go to Jerusalem.
Sovereign Lord Jesus, thank You for the gift of men and women who, like Paul, live their lives pointing to You. Thank You for the gift of Your Spirit who instructs and guides Your followers. Thank You for knowing the exact cost, yet resolutely going to the cross for me. May I be like Paul, who trusted Your Spirit's instruction even as he heard conflicting arguments from those who loved and cared for him.