Isaac, Jesus and the Ram Shutterstock

Isaac, Jesus and the Ram

There are many similarities between the sacrifices of Isaac and Jesus, but does one represent the other?


In the new movie “A Different Story” by the Israeli director Avi Nesher, a tour guide asks his group during a walking tour through the Old City of Jerusalem what Jesus has to do with Isaac. No one answers. As the tourists look questioningly at each other, some start to Google on their smartphones. This scene prompted us to consider once again something about which we have often had discussions with a group of friends. Is the offering up of Isaac an allegory for the atoning sacrifice of Jesus? Or is Jesus actually prefigured by the ram, who at the last moment saves Isaac’s life?

The parallels between Isaac in the book of Genesis and Jesus in the Gospels cannot be denied. In both cases a father sacrifices his son. Abraham is tested by God: “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah; and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you” (Genesis 22:2). In Jerusalem, God sacrificed Jesus…