Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Benjamin: The son of sorrow and glory

Jacob noticed a sudden increase of activity about the birthing tent. More women were appearing. Everyone seemed to be moving more quickly, with more urgency. Something was wrong!

Jacob barged into the tent. Rachel was still on the birthing stool, surrounded by the midwives. One was supporting her from behind, stroking her head, whispering comfort into her ear. She was pale and seemed barely conscious. There seemed to be more blood than in the past.

The midwife by Rachel's feet tried to encourage her. “The baby's head is emerging.” Rachel groaned, her faced clenched. She pushed. Twice more she pushed and groaned and bled. “It's a boy! You have another boy”, the midwife shouted.

Rachel almost collapsed onto the floor. The midwife at her back barely kept her from toppling over to the side. A bed appeared and they quickly transferred her onto it . A servant carried the newborn to his mother, and leaned down low so that Rachel might see her son. Rachel ran her fingertip across his little brow. When Rachel tried to speak, the servant leaned in even lower so that she might hear.

The woman rose from Rachel's side and came to present the baby to his father. “My mistress,” the woman said, “has named the child Ben-Oni.” Jacob looked at his son. “I shall call him Ben-Jamin,” he said.

With her dying breath, Rachel named her child. She called him Ben-Oni which means “Son of my Sorrow.” But the boy's time as Ben-Oni was a brief one, for his father gave him another name. Jacob called him Ben-Jamin, or “Son of the right hand.” It was the father's name that he carried throughout the rest of his days.

The book of Isaiah speaks prophetically of the Messiah as “A Man of Sorrows.” We see this prophecy fulfilled throughout Jesus' life as He weeps at the grave of Lazarus, as he weeps over Jerusalem. He even tells his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death.”

But that time of suffering and sorrow was brief. It has past. The work of Calvary has been completed. Over and over, the New Testament tells us that Jesus is ascended. That He has been given a place of honor and glory. That the Son is seated at the right hand of the Father.

(Genesis 35)