Daily Reflections February 7, 2018
Our text today is not particularly difficult to understand. Joseph finds himself in prison following the deceitful accusation that was levied against him by Potiphar’s wife. There, he meets two fellow prisoners he discovers to be the king’s cup-bearer and the king’s baker. Both of these men have dreams, and Joseph rightly interprets that these dreams indicate their fate. The cup-bearer will be restored to his position in three days and the baker will be executed. Joseph then asks the cup-bearer to remember his wrongful imprisonment when he is restored so that he might put a good word in for Joseph.
In the immediate future, the cup-bearer forgets Joseph but eventually these events lead to Joseph’s freedom and, more importantly, to the preservation of God’s people from the coming famine. The main point of today’s text is that God is sovereign and that every single thing that happens to us is somehow unfolding according to God’s plan. The entire Joseph narrative reminds us that our God is always in control – even as we suffer injustice from those around us.
Having identified the main point, I believe there is some value to be discovered in the minor details of this story. We would do well to learn from the attributes that Joseph displays in this text. Notice first of all:
Joseph’s empathy – In verse seven we are told that Joseph notices that the men are downcast so he asks them why they look discouraged. At this stage in the narrative Joseph had every reason to be angry and self-absorbed. How many of us would have been too busy sulking in the corner and lamenting our problems to give any attention to the problems of the people around us?
Joseph’s humility – In verse eight, Joseph makes it clear that God is the interpreter of dreams. How easy it would have been for Joseph to use his gift of interpretation to draw attention and glory to himself. Yet, even as he was bound in chains for a crime that he did not commit he recognized that every good gift comes from God and that the glory belongs to Him alone.
Joseph’s opportunism – Those who celebrate the sovereignty of God are sometimes characterized as fatalists. It is assumed that our belief in God’s sovereignty over all events will lead us to a passive, let-the-chips-fall-where-they-may type of attitude. But that’s not what we see in this story. Joseph is serving the Lord in the midst of his prison sentence, but he is also seeking to change his circumstances. He’s interpreting dreams and asking inmates to make a case for him when they receive freedom. He is working.
These are valuable lessons for us that can easily be applied to our everyday living. Remember that God is completely in control through the good and the bad. Take your eyes off yourself and comfort the people around you who are hurting. Don’t chase after people’s praises but commit yourself to directing the world’s love and adoration to God. And, with the knowledge that the God of the universe is actively working all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28), labor on and take every opportunity afforded you to advance the kingdom of God.
Assistant Pastor Levi denBok
In this chapter, Mark addresses the desire for wealth and status with what Jesus requires of those who would follow him. In contrast to those who scorn the weak and infirm, who seek possessions, positions and prominence, Jesus is the servant of all who gives his life as a ransom for many. In his living and in his dying, God’s suffering Servant came to draw people to himself. He came for the weak, infirmed and sin-bound. In this chapter, we meet 4 types of persons that Jesus addresses along this theme.
First, Jesus wants to touch the lives of children and bless them.
…Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. (Mark 10:14 ESV)
He invites the little ones, those of “little-status” to come. Yet again he warns those who would hinder them (see Mark 9:33-37). We are reminded of the great privilege and responsibility we have as parents and teachers to love, teach and care for children, for to such belongs the kingdom.
Second, Jesus wants to touch the lives of the rich and self-righteous.
And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17 ESV)
He comes to free those with wealth from the idolatry of loving their possessions more than him. Jesus wants to free the self-righteous to see their spiritual poverty and find in him alone their hope and treasure.
Third, Jesus comes to deliver the proud from their thirst for position and power.
… “What do you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” (Mark 10:36-37 ESV)
The disciples were blind to Jesus’ suffering and dying (though he had repeatedly told them). They wanted status but they would eventually learn the upside-down values of Jesus’ kingdom (see 1 John 3:16). They would learn that true greatness is defined by serving in Jesus’ name.
Finally, Jesus comes to give sight to the blind.
And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 19:47 ESV)
Fighting against the noise and rebukes of the crowd, Bartimaeus was unstoppable in his quest for a touch from Jesus. He saw his need for mercy, and received healing from Jesus the mercy giver.
There are many barriers to people coming to faith in Jesus. These include societal norms, injustice, elitist attitudes, good works, wealth, arrogance and physical impairments. Are these difficult barriers? Yes. But, are they impossibilities? Absolutely not. Thanks be to God, God is merciful and he is powerful.
With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God. (Mark 10:27 ESV)
The way of Jesus is the way of childlike humility. It is the way of repentance from idols. It is the way of poverty of spirit that puts no confidence in our works or goodness. It is the way of compassion for the broken. It is the way of spiritual desperation. It is the way of servanthood. It is the way of the cross. The way of Jesus leads us to love children, to be generous, to serve, and to bring sight to the blind. As we have freely received, with the heart of Jesus, let us freely give.
Associate Pastor Jody Cross