“Why have you deceived me?”
This pained cry was from Jakufu facing off his father-in-law. If ever there was a ‘morning after’, this was it! The previous night had been the happiest of his life. He had finally got his reward after seven years of hard work and waiting. Talk about crash landing from the moon, waking up to smell the coffee or a rude shock. None of these metaphors could describe how shocked and let down he felt.
An onlooker might have been forgiven for seeing it as a case of the hunter becoming prey! How, one wonders, was this irony lost on Jakufu, a master in the craft of deception? It had been seven years since he arrived in Haran, a fugitive, fleeing from home and his brother who had put a ‘wanted’ on his head. He had been welcomed by his uncle, now father-in-law, who would turn out to be a grandmaster in the art.
This Jakufu had in a past life swindled his older twin brother, Isao, of his first born birthright taking advantage of him in a moment of extreme weakness. Put a famished brother and Jakufu at the stove stirring the kind of stew that seductively whispers your name and begs to be downed and you have your ducks in a row. It’s not hard to imagine Jakufu holding the bowl near enough for the smell to waft to the nose of his hungry brother as he demanded the birthright to be handed over. The hungry Isao handed it over.
It was in a similar moment of weakness that Laban, Jakufu’s uncle, got him to sign over seven years of his life. This time the bowl of stew was lovely Rakeli, Laban’s second born daughter. A broke Jakufu was led by the nose, much as he had led his brother, and he signed up as livestock manager for seven years in exchange for the hand of Rakeli in marriage. He was hungrier than his brother had been and the seven years flashed past bringing the moment she would become his wife.
Only, he had not reckoned with the craftiness of his father-in-law to be. At a critical moment, the wedding night, Laban passed off Raeli, his older daughter known for her weak eyes rather than her beauty, as Rakeli. With the bride heavily veiled as was customary, he was none the wiser. By the time morning came, it dawned on him in more ways than one, but it was too late to turn back. He has been had by the champion of trickery!
Surely the veil that had disguised Raeli as Rakeli would remind Jakufu of a similar incident in his past? It should have brought to the surface a memory of the time he had worn his brother Isao’s clothes, wrapped animal fur around his neck and hands and passed himself off as Isao. At the critical moment his father thought he was blessing his firstborn son but instead ended up blessing his second-born!
Jakufu had surely been paid back in the same coin, only this one was newer and shinier.
Kenyans, tongue in cheek often say, “actions have consequences”. Malipo ni hapa hapa duniani, being Swahili for; you can expect to receive your just deserts in this life for the wrong things you do. We hope that the perpetrators of evil will pay for their actions. We agree that it’s unfair for those who line their pockets with money meant for medical care, leading to thousands of preventable deaths, to go scot-free. Their actions surely must catch up with them. Even if they are not arraigned in court we hope and trust that karma will get them.
On the other hand, we hope that our individual actions are not bad enough for us to have to pay for them. It’s only a white lie here and a broken promise there. We are only human and really not so bad. Or are we? Sometimes memory brings up that one action and with it the fear that our actions will catch up with us. We respond by piling up good actions hoping they will tip the scale and once the good actions outweigh the bad, we feel we can rest easy.
The Christian faith however says we are not capable of doing enough good. We’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us. Our good actions will not tip the scale. Every sin offends God and must be punished – the wages of sin is death.
Easter however reminds us there is another way. While sin will not go unpunished, someone has taken the consequences. The ultimate good news is that someone else has picked the tab! The bill for all our wrong actions has been paid! At the cross Jesus cried, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” The sins of us all were laid on him. Jesus suffered the eternal punishment and separation from God that our sin deserves.
In a most amazing and mind-boggling way, the just judge, rather than rap his gavel and declare us guilty, crossed the floor to our side and became our justifier. Rather than live in fear that sooner or later our misdeeds will catch up with us; or in anxiety as to whether our good deeds weigh enough to outbalance the bad ones and thus spare us from judgement; we can put our faith in Jesus who says, there is now no condemnation awaiting those who belong to Christ Jesus.
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