“A picture is worth a thousand words,” is the old saying.
Jesus painted pictures with words themselves. He not only told us to love our neighbor. He painted a picture of what this means with a parable, a story about a good Samaritan (Luke 10).
He not only told us that God is a gracious Father who wants His wayward sons and daughters to repent and return to Him. He portrayed this truth in the unforgettable story of the prodigal son who rose up from the pig sty of his stubborn self-will, went home, and fell into the arms of his waiting father (Luke 15).
Not only with parables and stories, but with actual case histories of real people, the Bible helps us understand the heart of our law and gospel God.
The Bible not only tells us, “The eye that mocks a father, that scorns obedience to a mother, will be pecked out by the ravens of the valley, will be eaten by the vultures” (Proverbs 30:17). The Bible also gives us the numbing case history of the young man, Absalom, who rose up against his father, King David. A silent heap of stones piled over a pit in the forest of Ephraim where they tossed that young man’s body after his failed attempt to overthrow David says the same thing in a way no lecture ever can (2 Samuel 13-18).
The Bible not only tells us that God will be with us through the deep waters of trouble and walk with us through the fires of adversity. It records the case history of three Hebrew lads named Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego whom God delivered from a real fiery furnace (Daniel 3).
And the Bible not only tells us in the eloquent epistles of Paul that we are justified (declared not guilty) through faith in Christ alone. It sets forth at some length the case history of a man named Abraham, saying: “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and then shows us this old man leaving behind country and kindred simply on God’s say-so (Genesis 12 – 25).
Abraham teaches us that faith is always faith in a specific word or promise of God. When God said something. Abraham believed.
This God-given faith produced in Abraham an unquestioning obedience.
The comforting and heroic case history of Abraham holds a special comfort for every believer in Christ – for you and me too.
Why? Because, as St. Paul put it: “Those who believe are the children of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7).
By faith, Abraham’s case history is truly our own.