In Genesis, we read the story of Jacob and Esau. Jacob (who would later become renamed Israel) conned his brother into giving up his birthright, and later stole the blessing away from him. Esau was understandably upset. In the midst of this, their father Isaac gives Esau a blessing of his own, and Gen 27:40, Isaac tells Esau “but when you grow restless you shall break [Jacob’s] yoke from your neck.” When Jacob and Esau are reunited in Genesis 33, he is understandably afraid (following the blessing in 27:40, Esau outlines a plan to kill Jacob after their father dies). He tries to butter Esau up with gifts, but Esau responds by coming to meet him with what appears to be a small army (400 men). However, when the two brothers meet, Esau breaks down sobbing and embraces his brother Jacob, offering forgiveness that was neither earned nor asked for, in a scene that was remarkably similar to Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son. The importance of what Esau does here cannot be overstated. He let go of his anger, acted like the bigger person, and forgave the one who wronged him without expecting his brother to initiate the process. In doing so, he fulfilled the blessing given, and broke the yoke of anger and fear that bound these two brothers together.
Hundreds of years later, Jesus would do something very similar. He would offer us forgiveness that is unearned and grace that is not deserved. However, unlike Esau, Jesus never had anger towards us, never sought to do us harm. He gave up his own life on the cross to break the yoke of slavery to sin that binds us. That gift is still being offered to anyone who would accept it. We as Christians have the responsibility to take that forgiveness into the world to show them what they’re missing. Find a way to be someone’s image of grace.