The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Welcome to big time wrestling

What, you thought it would be easy?

When I was a kid, on Saturday mornings I'd turn the television on, plop myself down in the family room and watch Big Time Wrestling, sponsored by a Cincinnati department store. It was really bad television. Both the wrestlers and the store spokespeople were bad actors. Nothing could have been more fake.

But the wrestling match that takes place between God and our ancestor Jacob is a far cry from those fake experiences (Genesis 32:22-31). It draws us into the most real experience that we, as individuals and as a people, have ever known. This wrestling match is your wrestling match. This wrestling match is our wrestling match.

craig orback

Family shenanigans

The story begins with our father Jacob, a guy who really was quite the deceiver, having just tricked his Uncle Laban out of the best animals of his flock. Not long before that, he'd tricked his brother out of their father's blessing. Instead of Esau getting the blessing and money he should have received as the elder brother, Jacob got it.

So now this hypocrite, this deceiver, our father, is on his way back home.

Laban had chased him for a while because of what Jacob had done. After they somehow ironed things out, Laban gave up the chase. But Jacob's brother Esau hadn't forgotten about his deception and was waiting up ahead to confront him.

It's amid all these family shenanigans that Jacob has the wrestling match. And indeed this is "big time wrestling." Jacob is wrestling with God.

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February issue


Embracing diversity