by Pauline Simonsen
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‘Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place – and I did not know it!”’ (Genesis 28:16).
Jacob is on the run. He has tricked his brother twice, and Esau is out to get him. Here in this lonely place, with a stone for a pillow, Jacob has an epiphany: he dreams of a stairway to heaven, linking God’s realm with the earth – with this lonely place, with this stone, with this desolation of land and spirit. With Jacob’s life.
Jacob is the trickster, the deceiver, a ratbag from birth. But in Jacob’s epiphany, God comes to this trickster and repeats the covenant promises God made with Abraham. God makes these promises to Jacob the ratbag: land, descendants, blessing. And God promises his everlasting faithfulness – to this unfaithful, unworthy, shifty man. Never has so much been so undeserved!
When Jacob wakes from this epiphany, this revelation of God’s graciousness, he is afraid. The Lord is with him in this desolate place, but he didn’t realise it! God has come down to him and deigned to grace Jacob the ratbag with his divine goodness, with his covenant promises. You’d think Jacob’s epiphany might bring an immediate, radical conversion of life for the trickster. But it doesn’t yet; that’s still some way off.
In John 1:51, Jesus reveals himself as the place of the stairway to heaven, as ‘Bethel’, the (new) House of God. Jesus brings the realm of God into our world – our COVID-weary, fearful, stressed world; our desolation of land and spirit. Your world. Mine.
Jesus re-speaks all of God’s promises to us! Especially the promise of God’s faithfulness to us unfaithful, unworthy people. Never has so much been so undeserved!
How will you respond to the epiphany of Jesus into your life?
How is it that you come to us, Lord Jesus, undeserving and unfaithful as we are? How is it that you speak all your promises to us, loving God? Oh, wake us to your gracious presence, Lord, and stir us to respond to you in spirit and truth. Amen.