“Now Jacob looked up and saw Esau coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two maids. 2He put the maids with their children in front, then Leah with her children, and Rachel and Joseph last of all. 3He himself went on ahead of them, bowing himself to the ground seven times, until he came near his brother.
4 But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. 5When Esau looked up and saw the women and children, he said, ‘Who are these with you?’ Jacob said, ‘The children whom God has graciously given your servant.’ 6Then the maids drew near, they and their children, and bowed down; 7Leah likewise and her children drew near and bowed down; and finally Joseph and Rachel drew near, and they bowed down. 8Esau said, ‘What do you mean by all this company that I met?’ Jacob answered, ‘To find favour with my lord.’ 9But Esau said, ‘I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.’ 10Jacob said, ‘No, please; if I find favour with you, then accept my present from my hand; for truly to see your face is like seeing the face of God—since you have received me with such favour. 11Please accept my gift that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have everything I want.’ So he urged him, and he took it.”
What a journey Jacob has been on. From the brash young man who stole Esau’s birthright, to this man of plenty, yet afraid to face his brother again. What a journey Esau has had as well, to come racing with four hundred men to meet his brother again. Both approach the other unable to frankly speak their mind. Both now men forgiving and building friendship again. Though first, this chapter and the one prior, speak of Jacob’s true fear of meeting his brother again. Not said aloud but in his dividing his family and their livelihood when crossing into Esau’s land. Jacob must have thought his brother would come with the violent intent, and thought he deserved for that scheming young man he was who ran. What thoughts must have rushed through his mind when all Jacob heard was a number, four hundred men? Four hundred men coming towards him and his family, this was surely the end. Yet Esau surprised them all. This brother came not to destroy but to embrace. This brother came with words of welcome and care, let my men help you on your journey. And Jacob says those powerful words, “to see your face is like seeing the face God.” How the journey profoundly changed them both.
Gracious Lord, may we see your face in those we have to ask for forgiveness from and in forgiving those who have sinned against, we pray. May the Holy Spirit’s strength walk with us on such journeys of forgiveness, Amen.