“Behold, your brother Esau comforts himself about you by planning to kill you.”
– Genesis 27.42
Jacob and Esau are two of the Bible’s more memorable characters, if for no other reason than most people know what it’s like to fight with a sibling. Their contrasts couldn’t have been more glaringly overt. Esau shopped at Wal-Mart. Jacob was a Neiman-Marcus kind of guy. We all know the story: Esau was entitled to his inheritance by virtue of being the older brother, but Jacob (in costume) stole it our from under him. And this was after some similar con-artistry had taken place earlier.
But in this scene, Esau really has been wronged, not manipulated. And there was nothing he could do to rectify matters – it was a done deal. And as part of that culture, life came to a halt when someone died, so Esau couldn’t even act out in rage because the family was still grieving the father’s death. The only thing he could do was plan his next move…
I’m sure you’ve been wronged, just like I have. And maybe the guilty party also happened to be very close to you. Someone you trusted? Maybe it was something that you were powerless to resolve. Have you resorted to gossip or slander or daydreams of failed brake lines? Isn’t all that stewing really nothing more than a carnal attempt at comforting ourselves?
Esau clearly stands out as a type and symbol of carnality in the Old Testament. He was a man given to appetites. The Apostle Paul even quotes God (from Malachi) in Romans as saying he hated Esau! In all honesty, I have to admit that I have all too much in common with Esau, but as quickly as we all might identify with Esau, we must look to Christ, in whom our lives are hidden. Jesus was also wronged by people close to him, people he was trying to help; yet unlike Esau, he found comfort not by planning their death, but stepping into his own!
So when we are wronged, we must remind ourselves that we don’t need to daydream of vindication; we simply need to remind ourselves that we live in newness of life because we were baptized with Christ in a death that came at the hands of mean-spirited people.