One segment of last night’s ZOOM Bible Class dealt with the reconciliation between Jacob and Esau in Genesis 33. Jacob is heading home to Canaan when he sees Esau and 400 men approaching. Yikes! Jacob quickly runs ahead of his family and bows down seven times to Esau. But Esau wants more than a bow. He wants a hug! Verse 4 says, But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.
It was a very emotional reunion. Jacob had been gone for 20 years. But in that 20 years, the Esau who swore revenge on his brother softened. And it was Esau, not Jacob, who made the first move toward reconciliation. I think that’s remarkable. Esau has plenty of reason to hate his brother. Jacob lived up to his name in deceiving both Esau and Isaac in order to steal Esau’s birthright and blessing.
Powell made the application that when we are wronged, it’s up to us to make the first move toward reconciliation. He quoted Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount, “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matt.5.23-24).
Somebody has to make the first move. May it be me.
Sweet Pat Smith had a great comment. She said, “Sometimes the bitterest circumstances make for the sweetest reunions. I’ve seen it over and over again.” I’ve seen it, too. Haven’t you?
I think of the threefold denial of Peter on the night Jesus was betrayed. Pictured at right is a statue commemorating those denials at what archaeologists believe is the home of the High Priest Caiaphas in Jerusalem. Today they call the place Gallicantu which means “where the rooster crowed.” I have a feeling that Peter will be happy to see that statue go up in flames on Judgment Day because Jesus forgave him. Do you remember the reunion? The resurrected Jesus appears on the shores of Lake Galilee. Peter leaves the boat immediately and swims to shore. Jesus has already built a campfire. They roast a few fish for breakfast. And then Jesus asks Peter three times, once for each denial, “Peter, do you love me?”
And three times Peter answers, “Yes, Lord. You know I love you.”
“Then feed my sheep and follow me.”
I find it significant that John ends his gospel with that story. He saved the best for last. A bitter and broken relationship finds sweet reconciliation because of one party’s willingness to forgive. Peter will go to the cross with the name of Jesus on his lips.
There are many such stories on the pages of the Bible. This Sunday we will look at another. Joseph has already gone to great lengths to show mercy and grace to his brothers. And after one final test of their repentance, Egypt’s governor will at last reveal himself as their long-lost brother Joseph. No anger. No bitterness. Just sweet reconciliation. Joseph sees that everything that has happened was to fulfill the will of God. “So, it was not you who sent me here, my brothers, but God. This is God’s mighty hand at work.”
“And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them. After that, his brothers talked with him” (Genesis 45.15).
Who do you need to forgive today? With whom do you need to ask forgiveness today?
Either way, go ahead and make the first move. Because sometimes, the bitterest circumstances produce the sweetest reunions.