Brotherly Love

“But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept.”—Genesis 33:4 (NIV)

Let’s recall the history between Esau and Jacob. Esau, in a moment of weakness and irrational thinking, sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of chili. Jacob, with the help of his mother, stole Esau’s blessing and in response Esau planned to kill Jacob. So, Jacob ran away to flee his brother’s wrath. And now, having been directed by God to go back home, Jacob tried to make up for the past by sending Esau some gifts.

You may have expected Esau in his bitterness to seek revenge and try to kill his brother and take everything from him. But instead, we see this wonderful reunion. Of this moment, Joseph Benson wrote that Esau sprinted to meet Jacob, “not in anger, but in love: so wonderfully and suddenly had God . . . changed his heart; and of an implacable enemy, made him a kind and affectionate friend!” They wept together, and all their previous history of strife, conflict, and enmity exterminated.

It had nothing to do with the gifts he had sent, either, because in verse 9 we see Esau tell Jacob, “I already have plenty, my brother. Keep what you have for yourself,” and only accepted the gifts because of Jacob’s pleas. This reconciliation was entirely centered around love.

Friends, I want you to see this picture of the gospel in this reunion. Esau had been wronged by his brother. There was great strife between them. But Esau ran to meet his brother and embrace him; to bring him into a beautiful, reconciled fellowship. Like Jacob, each and every one of us have wronged God. We’ve sinned against Him and fully deserve His wrath. Like Jacob, we’ve tried to run from God over and over again. And yet, He sets out to meet us at each and every turn. He pursues us in perfect love. And when we finally come toward Him, like the father in the Parable of the Lost Son, He runs to meet us where we are, embraces us in His perfect love, showers us with the affection of a loving Father, reconciles with us, forgives us, and enters into a right relationship with us.

This reminds me of the moment when I truly surrendered and responded to the call of Jesus to follow Him and He ran to meet me, forgive me of my sins, and embrace me as His own . . . as His child—an heir of the Father and co-heir with Christ! And because we’ve been forgiven much and brought into loving embrace with God despite our sin, like Esau we should in turn forgive others who have wronged us.

DIG: What does this reunion teach us about forgiveness?

DISCOVER: How does this reunion point us to the gospel?

DO: Is there someone you need to forgive? Reach out and offer them the same reconciliation that Esau gave to Jacob. Do you need to be forgiven? Reach out and seek to reconcile as Jacob did.