Today's Reading: Genesis 32:23-32
“Then He said, ‘Let me go, for the dawn breaks.’ But, Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’” (Genesis 32:26)
In the name of Jesus. Amen. Ever wrestled with God? Ever tossed and turned all night and fought with Him?
Jacob wrestled with God all night at Peniel. They went at it, all night, Jacob and the God-Man. When day broke, the Lord touched the hip of Jacob and it came out of its socket.
But Jacob still wouldn’t let go. He wouldn’t stop until God was good to Him. He wouldn’t release Him until God did what Jacob knew God would do: be good and gracious. Jacob held God until He remembered that He’s full of tender mercies and lovingkindness.
What follows is miraculous: Jacob is given a new name. He is re-named “Israel.” Which means, “He wrestled with God and prevailed.” How could Jacob fight with God and win? How can someone prevail against the Almighty God?
Every day you fight with God, too. Every day you deserve nothing but punishment and pain. You deserve suffering and death. Do you ever even consider the terrible things you do? How you treat your parents, your friends, your neighbor?
Then you launch your spitballs at God--you curse Him with your tongue, you make time for all sorts of interests but His Word, and then you attach His name to things that you have no business doing! God is not at your beck and call to damn this or that or another person. How dare you call down the fires of heaven on someone else. Shameful! Shameful!
God should turn His weapons on you. He should give you the hell and damnation you deserve. But, He doesn’t. You should be destroyed, but He won’t.
No, He has taken all the anger and wrath that He has for you and He has held it against His Son. His Son took your punishment. His Son took your damnation. God counts the death of Jesus in your place.
And in Christ, you--even you--prevail against God. You win the wrestling match against the Almighty. Not because you beat God by force, but because God allowed sinners to beat His Son so that you would be saved. Jesus’ Cross gives you the victory--over sin, over death, even against the wrath of Almighty God.
God has given you a new name in Baptism, too. He has cleansed you from all your sins. He is not angry at you. Not anymore. You have prevailed against Him in Christ. Don’t let go of Him until He saves you. In the name of Jesus. Amen.