Sermon for 2nd Advent Midweek – Dec. 9, 2020
+ 2nd Advent Midweek – December 9th, 2020 +
Genesis 22:1-18; Hebrews 11:17-22
Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church
“Jesus, the Root of Jesse’s Tree”
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
In the last few years, you’ve probably seen or heard a commercial for Ancestry.com or any number of similar services. People are fascinated by genealogies. And it’s easy to understand why. We like to know who we are, where we came from, or who’s in our family tree.
Modern genetics can tell you a lot about who your ancestors were. Several years ago, the remains of a fifteenth-century English king, Richard III, were discovered under a parking lot. How did archaeologists confirm the identity of the bones? By comparing the DNA in the bones to the DNA of a known twenty-first-century descendant of Richard III’s brother! Hidden to the eye is the link that extends from generation to generation. But it’s there.
Today we are lead to another part of Jesus’ family tree, another branch on Jesse’s tree, an elderly man by the name of Abraham. He was not the promised Seed of the woman. But he was chosen by God to be an important part of Jesus’ family tree, a branch that joins Eden and Bethlehem.
In the Garden of Eden as man and woman fell into sin, God immediately promised that One who was the “Seed” of the woman would defeat the serpent (Genesis 3:15). Down through the generations, God preserved the human race. Generations later, God called a man by the name of Abram out of the idolatry and into a relationship with Him. God also made Abram a promise: “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” “So shall your descendants be.” For in your Seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.
With a promise like that, you’d think there was something spectacular about Abraham that caused God to give him such good news. But no. When we first meet Abram, there’s nothing particularly special about him, nothing that made him worthy of God’s blessing. Like all of us, Abram was chosen solely by the grace of God. He was to be the bearer of the promise of the Seed of the woman.
The problem, at least from Abraham and Sarah’s point of view (and ours), is that when God gave His promise, Abraham and Sarah were long past child bearing years. The very idea of having a son at their age would be . . . well, impossible. And yet what is impossible for man is not impossible for God.
This promised son was to be named Isaac. But more important than his name was his role in God’s redemption of all humanity. Isaac was to be the bearer of a seed and the father of nations (Genesis 17:19). From Isaac would come Jacob. From Jacob would come Judah. From Judah would come Jesse. From Jesse would come David. And from David would come Mary. And, miracle of miracles, from Mary, the virgin mother, would come the Christ, the Seed promised to our first parents at the fall. Nothing is impossible with God.
Imagine, then, what was running through Abraham’s mind as he heard the same Lord say, “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” (Genesis 22:2).
Abraham, however, was prepared to fulfill God’s command. He prepared the wood, the fire, and the knife. And there was his son, Isaac, the son of promise, bound on the altar and wood. “Father!” “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.”
Abraham held the knife in his hand. He was prepared to kill Isaac, his son, his only son whom he loved. But he was stopped. “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me” (Genesis 22:12).
Ever wondered how Abraham could have possibly done what God had asked of him? I know I have. Thankfully, the book of Hebrews tells us. Abraham, “considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back” (Hebrews 11:19). Abraham could not see the future, but he trusted the Lord, who held the future, and knew that with God, all things were possible.
God’s promises never fail. Abraham knew that. So do we. God did not fail Abraham, Neither will he fail you. Just look at what happens through Isaac. He lives, and though he fails and fails over and over, he still fulfills God’s promises. The generations of Isaac’s descendants continue down through the centuries. The promised Seed remains in the line God had chosen to bear a Savior, not just for that Abraham’s family, but for all children of sons of Adam and daughters of Eve.
As Abraham told Isaac, “The Lord will prepare for Himself the sacrifice, my son.” That’s exactly what God was up to all those years, generations, and down the line through Jesus’ family tree. God was preparing us for the coming of the promised Seed, who, as the angel declared, is named Jesus, for he will save us from our sin. He is the Seed promised. He is the Root from which Jesse’s tree grows. He is the reconciler of the past, the redeemer of the present, the hope of the future.
In Isaac was the promised Seed that would one day take on human form in the virgin-born Son of God. There is the very Lamb of God. When Isaac was spared from Abraham’s knife, the Lord provided a sacrifice in Isaac’s place—a ram caught in a thicket. So He provides a substitute for you and for all —Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. One sacrifice for all time and all people. One death in place of our deaths. One tomb in place of our tombs. One resurrection by which we, too, shall be raised on the Last Day. One Baptism that we share. One Supper where He brings life, forgiveness, and peace. One Lord. One faith. One Hope.
And all of this because of the One Seed, whom God has given you, Jesus, His son, His only Son whom He loved. Sent to love you, save you, and bring you into his family tree.
In the Name of + Jesus. Amen.
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.