This is Spoken Gospel. We’re dedicated to seeing
Jesus in all of scripture. In each episode, we see
what’s happening in a Biblical text and how it sheds light
on Jesus and his Gospel. Let’s jump in. Jacob has escaped from
Laban and his deceitfulness. But now Jacob must confront the first
person he ever tricked – his brother Esau. Last he heard, Esau
was set on murdering him. So, how would
this confrontation go? Jacob asks God to protect him from Esau,
but he also reverts back to his old tricky ways. Jacob decides to send a parade of gifts to
Esau in order to win him over before they even meet. But before his confrontation with
Esau, Jacob sets up camp for the night. Without warning, an unnamed
man starts to wrestle with him. Slowly it’s revealed that this unnamed
man wrestling with Jacob is actually God. Jacob had wrestled his whole
life and used tricks every time. But now, there are no tricks.
He just holds on to God and won’t let go. But why is he holding onto God? Jacob is begging God to
bless him before he lets him go. Jacob stole a blessing
when his father’s sight was dark. But here, Jacob begs for a
legitimate blessing in the light of day. God then blesses Jacob with
the same blessing he gave to Abraham. Then, as God changed Abraham’s
name, he changes Jacob’s name as well. It is here that God’s chosen
people receive their name. God renames Jacob, Israel –
which means, “He strives with God”. Israel will live up to that name. Just as Jacob had to go through a period of
exile and wrestling with others, and with sin, and with God, so his people,
Israel, would do the same. From there, Jacob goes
out to meet his brother Esau. He sends the parade
of gifts ahead of him. But by the time Jacob gets to
Esau, his brother simply embraces him. Esau didn’t need to be bought
off because God had answered Jacob’s prayer for protection
by changing his brother’s heart. This beautiful story of planning,
wrestling, and reconciliation is our story as well. We regularly formulate plans when we
think about how we are going to approach God. We try to figure out what
parade of good deeds, excuses, or justifications we can make
for why God should forgive us. But, as this story shows us, we
don’t need to approach God this way. The reason we don’t have to approach
God with a parade of good deeds is that Jesus has already gone before us. He was wounded by God and
won a blessing for us, like Jacob. Even when we were faithless, scheming,
tricksters, Jesus took the blow we deserved. God has already accepted us
because of Jesus. Even when we try to pay
him off, He simply embraces us. I pray that the Holy Spirit would give you
eyes to see the God who contends with us in our sin and meets with us in the person of
Jesus to take our wounds and reconcile us to himself.