Genesis 32:22-31, Romans 9:1-5 and Matthew 14:13-21
Several will note the professional wrestling reference in the sermon title. WWE (WWF) is one of the most famous wrestling corporations in US history. It struck me that all three of these Bible passages are about “wrestling” (struggling) with someone or something pertaining to the spiritual life.
Jacob wrestles with a “man” (angel?), (God) until Jacob is blessed. But he is also wounded. Paul wrestles and agonizes in Romans with his Jewish heritage, the Old Covenant, his family of origin. Jesus struggles with both the execution of John the Baptist and the demands of the crowds who now flock to Jesus the healer. He needs to be alone for a while in a remote place but the crowds unrelentingly seek him out.
These are examples of “spiritual wrestling.” Wrestling may be the oldest “sport” referred to in the Bible! But here it is not a sport but an intense soul struggle with God and Gods people in a fallen world.
So, this Sunday we will hear references to wrestling entertainment in popular culture as familiar background for far more important spiritual struggles that Jacob, Paul, and Jesus were engaged in. And before we leave worship we will be called to remember our own “soul wrestling” in both our past and in our present.
So, as you know full well John 3:16, some of you will also recall a famous wrestling catchphrase from the Nineties WWE: Austin 3:16 (!). If you are a certain age or had children growing up in that era you may have had to listen and do your best to explain the differences between the Bible passage and Stone Cold Steve Austin’s borrowing 3:16 for his wrestler image. I did!
Read these passages in preparation for worship and consider you own “spiritual wrestling.”
Blessings in your struggles!