We speak fairly freely about how the relationship between Abraham and Isaac, particularly in the scene of sacrifice on Mount Moriah, mimics the relationship between God and Jesus - it is one father sacrificing a son. But what about other sons and fathers in the Bible?
What about, say, Jacob and Joseph?
This one struck me the other day as I was reading something somewhere. God made a promise to Jacob and renamed him Israel, which would become the tribe name of the people of God. This was the father of God's chosen people and through his twelve sons, he would become twelve tribes and inhabit the Promised Land that God had been leading the people toward.
The problem, of course, was that there were obstacles the sons of Jacob could not see - a coming famine, for instance. A period of parchedness. A time of trial and testing. They may have had their sights set on Canaan, may have been dreaming of what it would be like to be in the place that God was giving them, may have embraced wholeheartedly the idea of the promise, but they couldn't just go there. There was no way to just get there. God had to make a way.
And that way was through a son.
It was through a bitterness created between Joseph and his brothers, between one son and the rest of Israel. It was through the sending of a son into foreign territory, into the very high courts of a foreign nation where that son gained an audience with the leading authorities of the day. It was through food stocked in storehouses and brothers who, so many years removed, could never recognize the favored son but begged his mercy anyway, trusting that he was the only one who had it to give.
Sound familiar? A promise of the father, fulfilled through the son. And this son is much like the coming Son.
The coming Son, too, created a bitterness among Israel. He stood between the faithful and the Pharisee claiming a favor that set the Pharisee fuming. They started plotting how to get rid of Him. The coming Son, too, was sent into foreign territory, the very created world being so far removed from the heavens that were his home, and into the very high courts of both the Pharisee and the Roman, gaining an audience with both the high priest and the high governor. The coming Son, too, brought food out of the storehouses - bread, broken and shared freely; living water, poured out; blood, shed. And the coming Son, too, was not recognized by His brothers, was not known for who He was, was not embraced. At least, not by most of the brothers. It was the foreigners who flocked to Him. But all begged His mercy, sensing that He was the only one who had it to give.
Variations on a theme, as so much of God's story is. It's a pattern laid out again and again - father and son reflecting the glory of Father and Son. Abraham and Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. How about David and Solomon? The father David desires to build a temple for the Lord, a home for Him among His people, and the son Solomon does the building. God desires a home among His people, and His Son Jesus does the building. How about Zechariah and John the Baptist? Zechariah sees how the plan of God is unfolding, but it's through his son, John, that it actually comes to pass. God knows what He's doing in the world, but it's through His Son, Jesus, that it actually happens. Father and son, father and son, father and son, father and son, all drawing us into this grand drama of Father and Son. It's no accident.
God wants us to know undeniably when His Son comes just what this means. He wants us to know, from Abraham, from Jacob, from David, from Zechariah, from countless others, what it means when He calls this Jesus His Son. It means this Jesus, like all the sons before Him, is the fulfillment of a Promise. And He wants us to know from Isaac, from Joseph, from Solomon, from John, from countless others, what it means when this Son calls Him Father. It means that this God, like all these fathers, is the Promise Himself.