What Child Is This?
The One Who Journeyed for a Promise!
† In Jesus Name †
May you realize how the grace of God our Father, the mercy, love and peace revealed to us as we are united to Christ, may you realize how it sustains you on this journey.
I wonder if there were children among Abraham’s people, if during the journey from UR to Bethel, he heard the ever present phrases emanating from the back of the caravan….
“Are we there yet?”
“Fr. Abraham, cousin Michael is hitting me!”
“Honey, is there a bathroom ahead of us soon? I didn’t have to go at the last Oasis, but now…”
During the journey, there must have been times when Abraham raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Yahweh, you said this journey would be worth it….well – when does it get to be worth it?”
And about that time, someone gets sick…..or there is a flat tire or someone wonders whether the driver is lost, or…or..
Journeys do not always go as we plan. Sometimes they are fun, sometimes not so much. Especially when we forget why we are on the journey, when we forget our destiny.
Ultimately, that is what it is all about…knowing your destiny, and knowing that you aren’t alone on the journey….
So let’s look at Abraham’s journey first. Imagine the conversations he had with his father, his family and friends.
You are going where?
Who is this God again? How does He speak with you? How are you going to manage there, no friends, no help? Imagine the questions that Sarah had, and Lot.
It’s not easy to pick up everything and go to a destination you don’t know much about, to not even know when you are there! Take my word for it, Kay and I have done this once or twice….
One of the things about Abraham’s life, that fascinates me, is trust in God, when he had no idea of the depth of the plan. The plan was revealed slowly, and the fulfilment of it was always off in the distance. Eventually the promise would be seen fulfilled – but how many years? He knew his descendants would spend time in captivity. He struggled with how an old man would have heirs. Like us, he sinned often, doing things like giving into his fears, and letting his wife be taken by a king. He wrestled with God over the fate of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, He moved here and there, never really settling in one place in the Promised Land. He may not have known hardly any of the points in the journey, but he had a promise, and he knew well the Lord who promised him.
CLICK There is one thing he did, (well besides sinning) that we see here. He set up places where he could worship, places set aside to interact with God. Places to pray, places where Abraham could call on the name of the Lord the passage tells us.
It was a regular part of his life, even before the church, even before the Temple and the tabernacle. Even as his life wasn’t easy, even as he was betrayed and hurt by his nephew, even though he would face small wars… there was a constant.
God’s presence, interaction with God. What we call a relationship, or abiding with Christ.
A relationship where Abraham knew God well enough to trust Him at His word, and to call upon God often. God was part of his life, that’s why Abraham could trust Him.
Even when the trusting in God meant a long hard journey, with a bare visible promise.
We are in Lent, a time to consider Christ’s journey, to understand our need for Him to take that journey, and to wonder at a love so complete for us.
His journey was different. He wasn’t able to take his wealth, or a wife, or anything. He came as a babe, the babe we were singing about 3 months back, asking what child was this.
He probably the only one who chose to go on a long, long journey?
Definitely, He was the only one who took a journey knowing that a destination on the journey was death. A hard, bitterly cruel death, on a wicked, torturous cross,
He knew the promise. The writer of Hebrews tells us that when he was inspired to write.
Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame.
He endured it, he endured the journey, because the cross wasn’t His final destination point. It was simply a place where He did what the Father wanted, a midpoint, a place to take care of things, and put everything to right.
The joy was the destination, not even the resurrection, but 40 days later, as He ascended to the Father. He obeyed, like Abraham finding the strength through prayer, through interaction with the Father. Knowing that the cross wasn’t the end of the promise, but a waypoint. A part of the journey, but not the end.
His focus was what was the promise. The Promise. The Same Promise given to Adam and Eve, and to Abraham, and to Judah, and David, to Isaiah and Jeremiah. His journey was the beginning of the promise. Hear Hebrews again,
39 Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised. 40 God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours. Hebrews 11:39-40 (MSG)
His journey was a “there and back again” journey. He had a pick-up to make. That pick-up – are those who would join Him in the journey. Those who would find life in Him, and start their journey, even as we have.
Back to that quote from Hebrews. The one that talked of Jesus’ focus on the destination the end of the final leg of journey that we call the Ascension. Hebrews tells us:
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. 3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. Hebrews 12:1-3 (NLT)
You see His journey was to come and get us, and return us to the Father’s presence. That’s the promise of Abraham’s journey, that every nation would be blessed because of Jesus, the seed of Abraham (his descendant see Mt. 1)
His journey and the promise is about our journey! His destination is ours!
Ours may seem more like Abraham’s at times, and that’s because it is, and well, isn’t. It is because we will sin, and struggle, there will be times of war, and times where others walk away to places like Sodom (Hopefully we don’t forget to rescue them when needed, and intercede and wrestle with God for them as well!)
There will be times where we wonder – “why aren’t we there yet?” and times where we might get lost for the moment. We may still sin and struggle, we may still not find a permanent home, for the destination is still some way off.
The promise is still the promise – we can keep our eyes on Jesus, our champion, the one who brings us into a relationship where we grow in trusting God, in hearing His voice.
For that is where we can be most like Abraham, as we establish our times and places to hear God, to praise Him, to let Him nourish and strengthen Him, even as we look to the promise of His presence.
For He will never leave us or forsake us.
That too is His promise, on this journey of life.
What Child is this? The One who undertook a journey to come and take us on the journey of our lives… the one where the destination is found where we abide in the Father’s glory, the journey where Jesus Christ will guard our hearts and minds, for the journey is taken in His peace… amen?