That first line from the reading of Genesis: “God put Abraham to the test.” Are we ready for God to test us? Would God test us? A lot of people freeze if they must take a test. No matter how often we are told that a test is good for us because it helps us to understand what we know or how we would respond, we still do not want to be tested. What happens if you fail? And remember, the test for Abraham was to sacrifice his son, Isaac. There is no grading on the curve with this test. It begs the question, why? Why would God want us to sacrifice one of our children? Scholars have struggled with this question for three thousand years. And the best answer to this question is still – we must admit we do not understand the ways of God. But there it is, in the first book of the Bible, Genesis. Now we need to deal with it. Perhaps in this Lenten season we take a moment and think this through.
God does not cause evil, but He does permit it to occur in this world. The test is how do we handle evil? Think of the trust that Abraham must have had in God. Abraham and Sarah were quite old, very unlikely they would have another child. But Abraham trusted. And God provided an animal for the sacrifice. This leads us to think, do we trust in God’s providential care for us? And what about Isaac? Just when did he recognize that he was going to be the sacrifice. Isaac was young and strong, Abraham old and weak. At any point Isaac could have physically rejected what was about to happen. This is another opportunity to think about the faith of Isaac. Could you willing be a sacrificial victim?
The mysteries of God are not easily explained but they do test us. A test designed to allow us to look within ourselves and determine what needs to be changed. Or to find ways to grow in our faith. A test where the only failure is if we turn away from God. A test that we always pass if we have love for God, as He will always love us. Something to think about – if God is for us, who can be against us. God knows our weaknesses, our tendency to sin, but He does not leave us. God remains with us.
God also knows when we need to be strengthened and encouraged. The Transfiguration is to show to the disciples the glory of God as shown through Jesus. The words of God echo in our minds forever: “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him.” As God reveals Himself to us, we learn and understand in small steps. It is good for us to wonder, just as the disciples did at the end of today’s gospel, what does rise from the dead mean? We saw Christ glorified in the Transfiguration. Does that mean we, too, one day will be glorified with Christ? In a few short weeks, we will find out.
May the Lord bless you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen