And Jacob lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, Esau was coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two female servants. And he put the servants with their children in front, then Leah with her children, and Rachel and Joseph last of all. He himself went on before them, bowing himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.
But Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. And when Esau lifted up his eyes and saw the women and children, he said, “Who are these with you?” Jacob said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.” Then the servants drew near, they and their children, and bowed down. Leah likewise and her children drew near and bowed down. And last Joseph and Rachel drew near, and they bowed down. Esau said, “What do you mean by all this company that I met?” Jacob answered, “To find favor in the sight of my lord.” But Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.” Jacob said, “No, please, if I have found favor in your sight, then accept my present from my hand. For I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God, and you have accepted me. Please accept my blessing that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough.” Thus he urged him, and he took it. Genesis 33:1-11 ESV
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32 ESV
There’s a story from long-ago England about two brothers named Belinus and Brennius. They were the two sons of a king, and when their father died, they both wanted to become the next king. There was a war between them, and many battles were fought. Finally, when the two brothers had lined up their armies against each other for still another battle, the mother of these two boys went to the front lines to plead with them to stop fighting. Both brothers were moved by their mother’s tears and agreed to stop the war and forgive each other.
When Esau and Jacob met, it seemed as if there might have been a battle. Esau had 400 men with him, ready to fight. But suddenly something changed. Esau’s anger was overcome by mercy and forgiveness. Mother Rebekah wasn’t there to make that happen; she might not have been alive anymore. It was God himself who worked on Esau’s heart, softening it and giving him love instead of hate for his brother. Jacob knew that he had God to thank for the change in Esau’s heart. When he saw the mercy in Esau’s eyes, he felt as if he was looking at the face of God.
God is the one who softens our stony hearts and helps us forgive each other when we are hurt or angry. He does that through Jesus. Jesus won God’s forgiveness for all people when he died on the cross. Through Jesus we know the love and mercy in God’s heart for us. When we look at Jesus, we truly do see the face of God. When we forgive others, they can see the love of God through us.
Dear Jesus, thank you for showing us our Heavenly Father’s love and mercy. Amen.
Geoffrey of Monmouth The History of the Kings of Britain Middlesex, England: Penguin Books, 1966, pp.90-96.