Sermon: “The Return of the Prodigal Brother” (Genesis 33:1–20)
Relationships are messy. Even under the best of circumstances, trying to navigate the desires and distrust of other people can be one of the most difficult things we do—especially if we are at fault for something that has hurt another person. With all of these challenges, are relationships really worth it? How hard should we work to restore broken relationships, and how important is relational reconciliation? If God has forgiven us through Jesus Christ, then do we really need to seek the forgiveness of human beings?
Our Lord Jesus taught that relational reconciliation is non-negotiable in his kingdom. Jesus went so far as to say that you should leave in the middle of worshiping God to reconcile with your brother if you suddenly remember that he has something against you (Matt. 5:23–24). This does not mean, however, that living at peace with others is merely a hoop to jump through before moving on to what’s really important in our relationship with God. Instead, this means that living at peace with others is both the prerequisite and the path of a right relationship with God. In the reunion of Jacob and Esau in Genesis 33, we see that God reconciles us to our brothers in order to restore us to himself.