OT: Gen. 44:1-45:28
Okay, maybe Joseph is messing with his brothers some, what with the false accusations of stealing and all. I think his main objective is to get Benjamin to stay behind with him, but he definitely struck terror into their hearts with that one.
I am continually compelled to psychoanalyze the brothers. My newest diagnosis: Reuben has a good heart, but he is kind of cowardly. He really seemed to care for Joseph at the beginning, but couldn't stand up to his brothers. And then, he was the first to guarantee Benjamin's safety to his dad, but when they were all in front of Joseph, it was Judah who had the guts to speak up. And since I am all about reading too much symbolism into an event, I found it interesting that Judah offered to trade his life for Benjamin. He has a Descendant who will take that concept to the next level.
I'm also realizing why it is so hard for me to remember the names of the "other six" (Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulon). They are basically non-characters.
I really felt for Joseph when he bawled like a baby upon revealing himself to his brothers. Talk about some passion. I also thought it was conspicuous that the text only mentioned Benjamin weeping with him. I wonder how the other brothers reacted. Were they scared? Relieved? Resentful of all the mind games? Who knows...
But, I must say, all in all, that was a good story:).
NT: Matt. 14: 13-36
I really like the picture we get of Jesus in this passage. He has just been informed of the death of one of his closest friends, John the Baptist. Understandably, he withdraws "by boat privately to a solitary place" (13). Do you see the emphasis on privacy? On his need to be alone? Jesus was just dealt a blow. He needs to mourn, to regroup, to process.
But instead, he is greeted by a crowd clamoring for Him, wanting something out of Him. This situation seems like an extreme version of what I have experienced often in my life. Sometimes, physically and emotionally, I am at the end of my rope. I need to recharge, to go off by myself somewhere and commune with God. But life just doesn't let me. It keeps going, and people (like my kids) keep needing something out of me. It is during those times that I hope and pray that I can be like Jesus, who "had compassion on them" and helped them. It is not always convenient to do God's work. We don't always feel like we have the emotional resources. But often, it has to be done anyway. I find comfort in knowing that Christ was in those situations, too. And that I have "the mind of Christ" (I Cor. 2: 16) and His Spirit in me to help me.
And along those same lines, Christ uses the opportunity to teach His disciples to work beyond their resources. Their physical resources of food were woefully inadequate to feed thousands of people. Yet, in Jesus' hands, those resources were more than enough. (Court--can you tell that I'm thinking of you with all this "resource" talk? Thanks for that line of thinking:).)
Afterwards, Jesus finally gets His needed "alone" time and goes "up on a mountainside by himself to pray" (21). And then...He decides that it is a lovely night for a stroll on the water. (Just kidding--it's storming.) What follows is another relatable moment for me. First of all, I should say that I love Peter. I spent years making fun of him before I realized how much we have in common: the propensity to put our foot in our mouth, the passion without the understanding, the over-impulsiveness...you get the picture. And like Peter, I have so often gotten all excited and stepped out in faith, only to freak out two steps later and fall flat on my face. Or sink in the water, as the case may be. I love that Jesus "immediately" reaches out his hand and catches him. After gently chiding him, I guess they walk back to the boat on the water together, which is cool also. Or maybe Jesus carried him. Regardless, I love Peter's willingness to get out of the boat, I relate to his freaking out, and I am so thankful that Jesus is always there to pull us back up.
Psalm 18: 37-50
After all these years, I still haven't quite reconciled the OT violence with the NT teachings of Jesus and the apostles. I trust that they fit together, but it doesn't really click with me how they fit together. The psalmist here is pumped that he has beaten his enemies "as fine as dust borne on the wind" and that he has "poured them out like mud on the streets" (42). Again, that just doesn't sound like Jesus to me. Maybe Jesus' teachings in that regard were a totally "new treasure":).
I always love the imagery of being guided along "straight paths" (11). And I was intrigued to read another description of wisdom as life: "Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life" (13). What a cool verse.