An old man and a boy climbed up the hill. He was hardly a boy; at least in his late teens, as he was hefty enough to carry sufficient wood to burn a sacrificial animal. The old man was obviously brooding, for his son had to break in to ask, “Where is the sacrifice?” Out of the conundrum that had troubled his mind for days: ‘how could the son of promise be the sacrifice?’ He spoke, “God will provide the lamb.” The willing Isaac; the upraised knife; the angel speaking; the ram caught in the thicket….
About a thousand years later, a king stood on the same hill bargaining for a packed down piece of dirt; the threshing floor of Ornan. (2Sam 24; 1Chron 21) David had sinned by numbering the people, and God had sent a plague that killed thousands. When David interceded and offered himself in the place of the people, to die for them, God commanded David to buy the threshing floor and to build an altar there. David obeyed, offering burnt offerings and peace offerings. The plague; the punishment for sin; was averted.
Later Solomon built the temple on that spot, not far from, or maybe, providentially, exactly where Abraham’s and David’s altars stood.
Another thousand years later, outside the gates of the temple on that same mountain, the Lamb of God hung on a strange altar. The Jews never solved Abraham’s conundrum, yet inadvertently fulfilled God’s plan. The child of promise became the perfect sacrifice. In agony; suspended between earth and heaven, He cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” This time there could be no angel to stop the Father’s hand; “He was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due.” (Isa 53:8)
To spare the people the consequences of their sins, He offered himself. He was sacrificed as a burnt offering so that the wrath of God might be appeased.
Now that geographical mountain has passed into insignificance for we are “come to Mt. Zion; the heavenly Jerusalem; the church of the firstborn; to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant and to the blood.” (Heb 12: 22-24)
We climb the mountain with our hands empty. We bring nothing but ourselves; God has provided the sacrifice. In the Lord’s Supper the bread is the means by which we remember the life given for us. The cup brings us to our knees in memory of the “soul poured out unto death,” that we might live; forgiven.