Day 9

Jesus Is The True & Better Jacob

from the Advent 2015: Born Is The King reading plan


Genesis 32:22-32, Isaiah 53:5, Hebrews 12:5-11

Many years ago, when I was a senior in high school, several of my friends attempted to convince me to go out for the wrestling team. I’m kind of a bigger guy, and apparently there was a need for competitors in the heavyweight division. I’d never competitively wrestled before, but I thought, How hard could it be?

At first I was flattered, but then I realized what they actually needed was a sparring partner for our school’s biggest and strongest wrestler. We’ll just call him Samson for the sake of the story. Anyway, as soon as I realized that my role on the team was to be a glorified tackling dummy for Samson, I graciously (or perhaps not so graciously) bowed out.

I cannot for the life of me imagine what Jacob was thinking when he locked arms with God. The idea of grappling with Samson in a controlled environment was enough to make me think twice; but wrestling with the Almighty?!

Jacob spent his entire life looking for an angle; a way to better his situation. As we’re well aware, those angles weren’t always characterized by wise choices. I think wrestling with God takes the cake for questionable decisions.

God in His mercy honored the longing in Jacob’s heart, who, like so many of us, yearned for blessing, acceptance, and to be known by his Maker. The LORD did Jacob one better. In addition to blessing, acceptance, and a face-to-face encounter with the Most High, God gave Jacob a new identity: Israel.

However, as we know from the remainder of the wrestler’s story, Jacob failed to live fully into his new calling. Throughout the remainder of his days, we can observe this wrestler being referred to as both Jacob and Israel. Even though God gave him a new name, Jacob frequently struggled to live in a new way.

What’s so amazing about Advent is that Jesus, in His life, death, and resurrection, fulfilled and completed the work that Jacob could not. Where Jacob wrestled with God to receive blessing, Jesus wrestled with sin and death on our behalf. The blessing God spoke over Jacob was true and pure; but Jacob’s entanglement with sin made it impossible for him to fully live in it.

The prophet Isaiah refers to the wrestling of Jesus in another way: “He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5 NIV).

Jesus overcame sin, death, and the powers of the world, by laying down His life. He bore the shame and the wrath that we were due. In His every breath, He lived as the true Israel, walking the path that Jacob could not and staying the course from which we, on our best days, falter.

As we mature and grow closer to God, we should expect to follow the path of Jesus. We should hope to imitate Christ. All too often, though, we revert to the way of Jacob. We try to wrestle with God (or perhaps try to cut deals with Him) to get what WE want. In our wrestling we pray, “my will done.”

The way of Jesus is difficult, but it is also victorious. We have a champion who has utterly defeated the powers that seek to destroy us. In this season, we thank God that we no longer have to wrestle for a blessing. Rather, in enduring trials and resisting temptation we can pray with confidence, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.”

In this season of Advent, may our self-focused striving cease and may our heavenward praise increase. Thank the LORD that Jesus fulfilled all that Jacob could not. Thank God we have full access to Him through the new Israel, the truest version of Jacob: Jesus Christ.

Written by Andrew Stoddard

Post Comments (42)

42 thoughts on "Jesus Is The True & Better Jacob"

  1. Caleb Adams says:

    That I will not try to bargain with God and that I will realise more often how lucky I am to have a forgiving God

  2. Caleb Adams says:

    That we are stubborn because we still haven’t fully accepted his blessing yet.

  3. Caleb Adams says:

    Dear God
    Please help me to not bargain with you because it is useless and you know What’s best for me. Also I pray that I will help people to know your blessing and to help them take up gods blessing for them selves.
    Amen

  4. Caleb Adams says:

    That God is a patient and forgiving as he has already given his blessing when he died on the cross for us

  5. Mark Moskovitz says:

    God paid it all through Jesus. We don’t have to try to live as a new man on our own; we have Jesus to walk with.

  6. Mark Moskovitz says:

    God is truly big enough to take it all, and to change my heart and help me live as a new creation.

  7. Mark Moskovitz says:

    We always want to revert to our own ways.

  8. Mike DeAlto says:

    The Gospel transforms us throughout our entire lives to be more likely Christ. It changed us and gave us new life.

  9. Mike DeAlto says:

    We have a strong tendency to build our kingdom here on earth instead of God’s. Even though he gives us new life and freedom to live for Him, we often revert back to our old ways.

  10. Mike DeAlto says:

    Because of His great mercy, he changed us and he desires for us to live under our new identity. His way is pure and better than our own.

  11. Mike DeAlto says:

    By seeking not to slip back into my ways but instead to keep Christ and what he has done at the forefront of my heart and mind.

  12. Mike DeAlto says:

    That the Lord would guide me into making decisions that lead to glorifying him instead of myself.

  13. Oliver S. says:

    I pray that I would be less self-serving, more appreciative, and much more generous with my time and resources. I pray that the Spirit would guide me and mold me into a son worthy of our Father’s love and grace. I pray too that I will remember Jesus has paid the ultimate price and defeated sin: we are liberated and our redemption is in Him.

  14. Oliver S. says:

    I will do the best job I can of remaining disciplined, focused, and centered on the Gospel. I will remember the sacrifices that Jesus made on our behalf and work to have that influence my life day to day.

  15. Oliver S. says:

    Man is flawed, self-serving, and wayward. We want things on our time, at our discretion, and at our benefit. We are inherently selfish and we need firm discipline to keep us from straying from the path to righteousness.

  16. Ricky May says:

    Thank you Jesus that you succeeded where all others failed. Thank you that I don’t have to fight for a blessing; that it is freely bestowed.

    Also…how awesome is it that God likes to wrestle?!?!

  17. Ricky May says:

    It comes full circle. We have many images and fore bearers of Christ, but where they all fall short, he comes through.

  18. Ricky May says:

    I/we strive so much; for blessing, for accomplishment, for what we think will bring life. You are the giver of life, God. Please help me go to you instead of everything else.

  19. Ricky May says:

    Stop my ceaseless striving and thank God for the victory that is already won, and the adventure to come.

  20. Ricky May says:

    Thank you God that you have already done it; already won the wrestling match against sin and death. But also, thank you so much that you like to wrestle, and that it is near and dear to your heart apparently (as it is to mine haha.)

  21. Alex Reed says:

    I will pray that He guides me and that His will be done in my life. And that, as a father, I can help my children to find the same path.

  22. Alex Reed says:

    Jesus is the ultimate teacher. Where Jacob failed, Jesus prevailed. Jesus took all of he struggles in this world and defeated them, so we do not have to. We only have to follow Him.

  23. Alex Reed says:

    God loves us, and in His way disciplines us. God has shown us the path to follow with no short cuts. That path is to follow in the steps of Jesus.

  24. Alex Reed says:

    Man cannot live up to the blessings God has given us through Jesus Christ because of our sin. We can only hope in Him who defeated death and sin to teach us.

  25. Alex Reed says:

    I need to remind myself that there are no angles, no shortcuts for me to take to bring about my own salvation. Only through the blood of Christ am I ever to hope for and look forward to Heaven. I need to listen to His teaching, not to my own desires.

  26. Jordan Benesh says:

    Jesus is our substitute; where we wrestle sin and death unsuccessfully, he conquers both sin and death.

  27. Jordan Benesh says:

    We wrestle with sin but are not strong or faithful enough to defeat it; only Jesus could. We struggle and toil but God uses our hard times to change is from the inside out.

  28. Jordan Benesh says:

    Remember the sacrifice Jesus made, remember the good news that God sent his one and only son to die in our place and bring us new life.

  29. Jordan Benesh says:

    He is good and merciful. He loves us so much they he meets us in our lives and our circumstances and blesses us.

  30. Jordan Benesh says:

    For continued grace and for times of strife and need so that I understand and feel my depravity and need.

  31. Jared Diley says:

    Christ came to earth to seek and to save that which was lost. We are in a defective state until we follow Jesus. Just like Jacob was always working angles, so we suffer through life apart from God. But Christ, Who is our life has appeared and reconciled us.

  32. Jared Diley says:

    God sees us in our broken state but does not leave us. He is relentlessly pursuing us, sometimes in ways that we find uncomfortable, even painful. Yet time and again He commends His love toward us in that while we yet stumble, His blood remains sufficient to cover our sin. Thanks be to Christ for His intercession on our behalf. How deep is the love of our God.

  33. Jared Diley says:

    Remember the redemptive work of Christ in my life. Remember the redemptive work of Christ for the world. Pray for the unreached. Go to those who haven’t received the gospel and live/speak it to them.

  34. Jeffrey Messenger says:

    Man is foolish in his own ways and desires what only will benefit himself, and because of that we are in need of a Savior to rid us of our selfishness and greed.

  35. Jeffrey Messenger says:

    God is a loving Father that teaches us by molding us like clay to look more like His son.

  36. Jeffrey Messenger says:

    Jesus came to be the one who wrestles with sin so that through His death and resurrection we have the power and freedom over sin and the grave.

  37. Jeffrey Messenger says:

    Allow myself to take my praise Heavenward and to allow the Lord to mold me and groom me as He pleases.

  38. Jeffrey Messenger says:

    Father, teach me to not wrestle with You, but to completely surrender my life to You for Your glory and honor.

  39. Taylor Homeyer says:

    The Lord gave Jacob a great blessing. But the sin in Jacobs life interfered with him being able to live that out. This is my life. The Lord has blessed me with salvation. I am saved because of the Lord’s Grace. But I don’t live it every day. Not even close.

  40. Reid Wahlbrink says:

    Lord, I do want to be with you.

    I want to learn to live in the coming kingdom. I think this will bring wisdom and effective living in this world as well, but this world is passing away. I don’t want to get better at living in a world that is passing away. I want to get better at living in a world that is coming to stay.

    Lord help me to desire your presence, to desire relationship with you more than I desire benefits and blessings that may come from those. Teach me that success is relationship, closeness, intimacy with you. Success as the world sees it may come, but it is a bonus, built on the foundation of relationship, which is available to me now.

  41. Reid Wahlbrink says:

    We are usually more focused on being blessed by God that we are on being with God.

  42. Reid Wahlbrink says:

    God was willing to wrestle with Jacob. God could sit on his throne and just see if we will play by his rules and come meet him on his terms. He could be indifferent about whether or not we ever got back to him. But he meets us, engages us where we are.

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