GENESIS 42:18-43:34 | MATTHEW 13:47-14:12 | PSALM 18:16-36 | PROVERBS 4:7-10
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The fascinating story of Joseph continues.
Joseph’s plan to reveal himself to his brothers is a long and involved one: he allows them all to return home with food and grain (and returns their payment to them in their bags) on the condition that they leave one brother behind, Simeon. Furthermore, he tells them that if and when they return with their youngest brother, Benjamin, he will let Simeon go.
The account doesn’t say how long the brothers are gone, and if anything, their father Jacob’s reluctance at allowing Benjamin to go back with them causes a further delay. But when Jacob finally relents, the brothers set off again, this time with Benjamin by their side.
The story continues with Joseph being moved to tears at the sight of his baby brother, but still he bides his time and does not reveal himself to them. If the band of brothers is surprised at how well they have been received, they are even more surprised to see how Benjamin is favored in that he is served the lion’s share at the dinner table.
We must wait to see how this saga unfolds… but for now, one can only imagine the range of emotions that must have overtaken Joseph in all this.
And I wonder about Simeon — did he perhaps wonder if his brothers would ever come back for him? Perhaps he accepted his lot as a form of divine justice, and had resigned himself to being held a prisoner forever in Joseph’s house. Imagine Simeon’s joy when word of his brothers return is announced to him! I am sure he didn’t need any explanation on the concept of grace — he had just experienced it!
In the meantime, Matthew continues with his account about Jesus’ ministry throughout the region. He continues to speak in parables and even offers up their meaning to the people.
But there are disbelieving people everywhere, and Jesus is no fool — he stops performing miracles, as Matthew points out: 58 And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
At this point, there is also mention of the strange circumstances surrounding the beheading of John the Baptist. In one of the other gospels, the girls’ name is noted as Salome. At her mother’s prompting, she asks for the most bizarre thing when Herod tells her she may ask anything she wants as a royal gift.
And so, she asks for the head of John the Baptist on a platter! John, you see, even whilst in prison was not afraid to speak up and call a spade a spade: he was openly condemning Herod for having taken his brother’s wife, and this of course, did not set well with Herod.
But while Herod lacked the courage to put John to death for fear of an uprising by the people, his cunning wife carefully arranged things. In instructing her daughter to ask as her reward the head of John the Baptist, she accomplished with ease what had been a problem all along.
And so ended the life of the one who was a precursor to the coming of the Messiah. As gory and horrendous the ending, John the Baptist’s life served a higher purpose, and I am certain that he had not an iota of regret even in his last breath.
Turning next to the Psalms, we find David the warrior-king say:
31 For who is God besides the LORD?
And who is the Rock except our God?
32 It is God who arms me with strength
and makes my way perfect.
33 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
he enables me to stand on the heights.
34 He trains my hands for battle;
my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
35 You give me your shield of victory,
and your right hand sustains me;
you stoop down to make me great.
36 You broaden the path beneath me,
so that my ankles do not turn.
And yet again, Solomon cannot cease to sing the praises of getting Wisdom and holding on to her. He says:
7 Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
8 Esteem her, and she will exalt you;
embrace her, and she will honor you.
9 She will set a garland of grace on your head
and present you with a crown of splendor.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word. Amen.