Jesus is the true and better Esau

Tim Keller spoke at the 2007 The Gospel Coalition conference and Heath McPherson used part of Keller’s talk to make the following video.

That video is fantastic, but there’s one Old Testament person that Keller neglected to mention: Esau. If you went to Sunday School as a kid, you might be scratching your head. Easu was the fool who sold his birthright for stew and got conned out of his blessing by a tricky mom and little brother. How’s Jesus fit with that?

I think Jesus is the true and better Esau (to borrow Keller’s language) because Christians are true and better Jacobs. We, like Jacob, receive the blessing and birthright our older brother deserves. We, like Jacob, are dressed up in our older brother’s clothes- His righteousness. Our Father examines us and only sees, feels, and smells our older Brother. And, because we pass the test of being Him, we receive His blessing.

Like Jacob, we’re afraid we’ll be found out to be the frauds we are. We’re not perfect like Christ. Jacob wasn’t hairy and didn’t have the earthy smell of Esau. In our fear, we try to heap up good works and rule keeping to justify ourselves before God, nervous that our older Brother’s merit just might not be enough to get and keep us accepted.

If I could add a line to Keller’s manuscript, it might be this:

Jesus is the true and better Esau whose younger siblings come to the father, covered in his apparel.  Because the father sees them as Esau, these younger siblings are treated, blessed, and loved like they literally are Esau, not second-class children.

Big thanks to my friend Sam, who helped me see this analogy for the first time.

Update: Sam says that people ought to click here to hear Terry Virgo speak more about this kind of grace.


About Brian Phillips

Brian lives in Spain with Kassie and their kids.
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