But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept.
Have you had to ask someone to forgive you recently? Perhaps you found a piece of chocolate that someone was saving and ate it without thinking. Maybe you arrived late for supper with friends. No matter how hard we try, it is inevitable that there will always be times when we annoy or upset people, or when we let someone down. In these circumstances it is good to know that we have been forgiven because we can move on with our lives. I’m sure there are also people who you feel have let you down, or hurt you in some way. Being able to forgive people, no matter how badly they have acted against us, is very important; without doing so we can cause hatred to take a root in our hearts, and it will end up burning us up inside. Forgiveness can be very, very hard to do, however.
In today’s verse we see forgiveness in action. Jacob has returned home after twenty years away. He left after cheating his brother, Esau, out of his father’s blessing, which he should have received as the eldest son. Esau was clearly very, very upset, and very angry about this. Consequently, when he returns home, Jacob does so extremely cautiously, fearing a possible attack from his brother. He must have been shocked by Esau’s response to his return, therefore; Esau “ran to meet Jacob and embraced him.” Both of the brothers were overcome with emotion and wept. I’m sure a good deal of Jacob’s weeping must have been due to his surprise, delight, and happiness that his brother was not still angry with him. He is absolutely overjoyed at Esau’s forgiveness, which he no doubt felt he did not deserve. He even compares Esau’s forgiveness with that of God when he says in verse ten, “to see your face is like seeing the face of God.”
I wonder if there are people who we need to ask for forgiveness from, people that we know we have wronged but who we’re hiding away from. I have no doubt that we also have people who we need to forgive, even if we think they do not deserve to be forgiven. Perhaps we can pray for forgiveness and reconciliation with our friends and family today. Most of all, maybe we should thank God that we can be forgiven because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who paid the price for all of our wrongdoing, and reconciled us to his father in heaven. Just as Esau ran to greet his forgiven brother, God is desperate for us to return to him, and is waiting to forgive and embrace us.