Daily Reflections February 9, 2018
A long time has passed since Joseph’s father and brothers have been in the picture. He has been in Egypt for twenty years, moving all the way from the position of an imprisoned slave to the second in command of the entire nation. He even has his own family now. We’re told that he has even began putting his sordid past out of his mind:
““For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father's house.” (Genesis 41:51b). But in this chapter, the brothers come back into the narrative.
It is impossible not to see this chapter as a part of the overall purpose of the narrative of Joseph. God has a plan and is bringing it about through the events in Joseph’s life. They may seem like calamity upon calamity to the immediate, watching eye. However, God is setting the stage to fulfill the promise that he made to Abraham and Jacob. So the overarching theme should still be primary in our mind as we read this section.
However, this story also has a gripping undertone: our past sins can paralyze our present. We see that the sin committed against Joseph causes all three parties in this chapter to be struck with fear. Joseph recognized his brothers, but had no idea if they had ill intent or what they would do; so he concealed his identity. His brothers are terrified as they sit in prison, convinced that this is their punishment for their sin against Joseph. This comes through clearly as Reuben exclaims to his brothers,
“Did I not tell you not to sin against the boy? But you did not listen. So now there comes a reckoning for his blood.” (Genesis 42:22b).
And Jacob, upon the return of the brothers, shows his dread at sending Benjamin because of what had happened to Joseph. He says,
“You have bereaved me of my children: Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and now you would take Benjamin. All this has come against me.” (Genesis 42:36b).
The act against Joseph has plagued the lives of all three for over 20 years, and we can see that it has deeply affected them.
So before reading forward and rejoicing that there is reconciliation, be sure to meditate on the fact that sin can stain far deeper, wider, and longer than you might think. Sin cannot be dealt with by covering it up with lies, forgetting about it, or drowning in sorrow. It will still be there lurking to rear its head when you least expect it. And when that day comes - sometimes many, many years later – it will cause a great flood of guilt and fear for everyone.
Yours in Christ,
Associate Pastor Evan Webster
In today’s reading we find Jesus in the thick of conflict with the religious leaders of his day. He stands alone as Pharisees, Herodians, Sadducees, and scribes come to trap him with their clever arguments. At no point, however, does Jesus appear to struggle against the attack of his opponents. He instead listens to each argument in turn and quickly dismantles them.
Having been confronted at all sides, the chapter ends with Jesus switching things up and going on the offensive himself. Jesus thus proves himself to be superior to his opponents. Jesus is no ordinary religious leader, but he is instead the One in whom true wisdom is found. The crowds were both eager and glad to hear him speak, and we too should share this same enthusiasm for listening to his great wisdom.
The chapter begins with a parable of condemnation against the religious leaders of Israel. The tenants in the story represent the religious leaders, the servants are the prophets, and the son is none other than Christ. This parable thus recounts the history of God’s prophets being rejected and killed. The prophets were treated poorly because the religious leaders in their pride wanted all of the inheritance for themselves.
They craved the respect and authority that their position offered, and they would not allow any word to be spoken against them. Their pride, however, was also their downfall, for when they killed the Son they guaranteed for themselves God’s wrath and judgement. This parable served as a prophetic judgement on the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, but it also warns the modern church of what will happen when God’s rule is rejected for the glory of self.
What follows next are three occasions where the religious leaders try to stump and trap Jesus. If they can prove to the people that Jesus is not the great, all wise teacher that they think he is, they will have an easier time arresting him. Much to their dismay, all three attacks fail and Jesus is further exalted for his wisdom and understanding of the Scriptures.
To make matters even worse for the religious leaders, Jesus finds in these attacks an opportunity to present himself not only as a wise teacher, but as One who is greater even than King David (12:35-37). Jesus exalts himself as the anticipated Messiah.
Just as the chapter began with Jesus condemning the religious leaders, so to it closes. Jesus uses his triumph to speak a clear word of judgement against those leaders who seek their own glory above the glory of God. As we read verses 38-44, we should be reminded that it is possible to do all the right things for all the wrong reasons.
I fear that many of us are more like the scribes and Pharisees than we want to admit. Our devotion to God has become not only about His glory, but also as a way to exalt ourselves before others. The end result of this behavior is our own condemnation. Flee, therefore, from this sin and cast yourself instead on the mercy of God, asking that He would help realign your motives for serving Him.
Director of Youth Ministries Ryan Shevalier