The story of the sacrifice of Isaac is so powerful that it is never referred to as the near-sacrifice. Abraham’s willingness to give up his son was 100%. The story shows, with two characters and God, what in the Jesus narrative is accomplished in one human being.
In stories the spiritual must be represented in the physical else there is nothing for the reader to work with as symbols. The physical can be interpreted in many ways and that’s what makes for a good story.
For Abraham, the son he had prayed for, his link to progeny, his proof of manhood, the long-awaited delivery of God’s promise—all this as his most prized possession was being asked of him. And his willingness was all God wanted.
Jesus was asked to give his life, his most prized possession, a life lived doing what he thought was the most important things: preaching, teaching, healing—what he thought God wanted him to do. As all those things were given up he became, in the narrative, one whose very being was transformed. The story says his being was so transparent and ethereal that he could move through a locked door and yet could eat and drink as a normal human.
He was recognized in a prayer of thanks. He prepared a meal for his friends. He didn’t preach or teach or heal. He encouraged his friends to be compassionate.
He just was. His being was enough. His being was exactly what God wanted of him. And what God wants of us.