One day Jacob was cooking a stew. Esau came in from the field, starved. Esau said to Jacob, "Give me some of that red stew—I'm starved!" That's how he came to be called Edom (Red).
Jacob said, "Make me a trade: my stew for your rights as the firstborn."
-Genesis 25:29-31 (The Message)
When is the last time someone offered you a stew?
There are certain, face value applications to this text I could list, all of which would be trite. How many of us have sold our birthright for a stew? How many of us, out of some compulsion or minor need, have resorted to a brash or unwise action, giving up something of immense worth? Each of us are capable of doing the math, without having someone walk us through the steps. Sit, meditate, think. Repent, if you need to. What have you been willing to trade, what small thing, or what large thing, for something of much greater consequence?
It would be better to sit with this text, rather than reduce it to a quick moralism. Jacob's shrewdness, and his lack of compassion for his brother, are counterexamples. Esau's lack of wisdom, his impulsivity due to an empty stomach, is also instructive. But we are all Esau. We are all Jacob. We've offered stews and accepted them; we've been unjust and unwise.
But God has something more for you, a feast that has been prepared. That feast is named Jesus, who called himself the bread of life, and gave us a meal to remember and commune with him by. Once that meal has been partaken, it allows you to recognize, to see the lack in every false stew, reshaping your moral vision to where you are enabled to refuse such offers, as well as to cease making them.
Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and said, "Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me."
The stew loses its appeal when we have discovered a greater, more satisfying meal. That meal has been offered. Take and eat.
Jesus Christ, it is in your body and blood, and the bread and wine that we remember your sacrifice by, that we find the resources to resist the temptation of the stew, both as the one who offers, and the one who is tempted to trade. Make new our vision, our way of seeing, so that we might live holy lives as your disciples. Help us to see that your meal is greater. In your name, Amen.