Formations lesson for Feb. 9: Abundance - Living Beyond a Withered Self
January 17 2003 by Robbin B. Mundy , Genesis 25:27-35; Mark 3:1-5

Formations lesson for Feb. 9: Abundance - Living Beyond a Withered Self | Friday, Jan. 17, 2003

Friday, Jan. 17, 2003

Formations lesson for Feb. 9: Abundance - Living Beyond a Withered Self

By Robbin B. Mundy Genesis 25:27-35; Mark 3:1-5

Similarities and differences are gifts of God. How bland the world would be if we were all equally skilled, equally gifted and equally interesting. It is in our differences where God can make the most use of us.

How many times do you hear parents express the amazing differences between their children? As parents we celebrate the uniqueness of our children as opposed to their similarities. So does our creator.

Our differences illuminate both our strengths and our weaknesses. What we choose to do with them either opens doors or closes them.

Genesis 25:27-28

Esau and Jacob were as different as night and day. Esau was quite the outdoorsman, a skilled hunter and deeply admired by Isaac, their father. Jacob was mild-mannered, quiet, reserved and favored by Rebekah, their mother.

It is puzzling that some parents would allow themselves to choose favorites. It is equally puzzling that adult siblings would give in to their parent's failure rather than mature beyond it so they can achieve their full potential.

Genesis 25:29-30

Human need generates both strengths and weaknesses. Esau was more than hungry. He likely had been hunting for more than a day or two and, perhaps, had been unsuccessful, so he was famished, literally. Jacob prepared a lentil stew which undoubtedly created an aroma that filled the air. It was calling Esau's name. He was hungry for food but Jacob was hungry for wealth.

Genesis 25:31-32

Jacob began bargaining with his brother. Esau wanted - needed - nourishment, but Jacob decided to take advantage of his brother's weakened state of mind and negotiate ownership of Esau's birthright. Jacob required the promise of his brother's birthright in order for him to acquire a bowl of stew.

Sibling rivalry is real.

Genesis 25:33-34

Esau gave in to his hunger pangs and chose food - momentary satisfaction over rational thinking and decision-making. He agreed to give Jacob the birthright, ate until he was satisfied, and left resentful.

The text discloses something further. At first one might conclude that Esau simply chose self-satisfaction or instant gratification over a secure future. However, the text carefully points out that Esau "despised" his birthright. The birthright established one's place in the family and indicated a measure of wealth.

Did the role fit Esau? Did the pending responsibility haunt him? Were his feelings related to Jacob and Rebekah's favoritism or to deep-seated sibling rivalry? Were there other issues that made him feel personally unworthy before the God of Isaac and Abraham? Whatever the reason, his feelings were strong.

Was it greed that led Jacob to take advantage of his brother? Did the idea originate with him or with Rebekah? Did he orchestrate the exchange knowing Esau's predictable behavior, or did the thought occur to him on the spot? Like Esau's, his feelings were strong.

Mark 3:1-2

People were gathering in the synagogue, no doubt expecting to study the law of the Sabbath. Jesus was under constant scrutiny because the Pharisees disagreed with his practices. On this day the Pharisees must have been anticipating trouble so they were on watch.

Not to be disappointed, a disabled gentleman arrived. He had a withered hand. The Pharisees watched and waited.

Mark 3:3-4

Jesus invited the man with the withered hand to come forward. Jesus looked at the Pharisees and challenged their thinking, "Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save life or to kill?"

Jesus emphatically pointed out that people are far more important than laws.

Mark 3:5

In anger and disgust Jesus lectured the Pharisees on the value of human life. He restored the man's withered hand to health in front of them. Sadly their hearts were as hard as Jesus said they were.

The usual reaction to a miracle was astonishment, praise, worship and elation - not anger and threats. God values individuals far more than rules.


There are disappointing turns in life and challenging realities. How do we respond? If we choose the path of Esau and Jacob, then we give in to our weaknesses and go with our initial feelings as opposed to our spirit-filled capabilities. If we choose the path of the gentleman with a withered hand, then we claim the hope for a brighter future and "hand" our weaknesses to God - in spite of the limitations Pharisees of today want to impose.

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1/17/2003 12:00:00 AM by Robbin B. Mundy , Genesis 25:27-35; Mark 3:1-5 | with 0 comments
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