GENESIS 44:1-45:28 | MATTHEW 14:13-36 | PSALM 18:37-50 | PROVERBS 4:11-13
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One of the greatest stories of a family reunion is recorded in these chapters of Genesis.
God works in mysterious ways, and has a reputation for taking something so broken and hopeless as a young boy sold into slavery by his own brothers to turning things around where there is eventually restoration, forgiveness and reconciliation.
The evil that was brought upon Joseph was not of God’s doing, i.e., it was never part of God’s plan — I would even go so far as to argue that it is never God’s intention to afflict pain and suffering. That is, unfortunately, well-attended to by Satan and his emissaries. And yet, we see how even the most horrific of evils are overcome by God’s counter-plan.
If it is said that God stands by and allows misfortune to approach us, there is always a greater purpose at hand, and God will find a way to make good out of the bad. We’ll see a case of this again in the person of Job.
Next, the reading in Matthew contains two of the most striking passages of Jesus’ supernatural acts. First, there is the feeding of the five thousand men (plus their families which would make that number way higher!) with five loaves of bread and two fishes. What I wouldn’t give to interview someone –anyone–in that crowd on that day.
What must it have been like to witness this 33-year old young man performing these miracles?
Healing the sick, feeding the crowds, why, even raising people from the dead! The crowds that followed him around knew this was no ordinary man. They knew so well, and their faith was so great that they clamored to touch the hem of Jesus’ clothes because they could see for themselves the miracles that were happening before their very eyes.
And then we have the story of Peter’s attempt to walk on water. It is an account that has always fascinated me no end. Imagine Jesus calling out to Peter to step out of the boat and come toward him as though the boat was on land. And Peter’s initial response is one of immediate obedience.
He steps out and begins to walk, and lo and behold, he is walking on water, and walking toward Jesus, but then he looks around and instantly his faith deserts him and he begins to sink. Would that he had kept his eyes only on Jesus!
Would that we would keep our eyes on Jesus. Who’s to say we can’t walk on water?
But just like Peter, we also rightfully cry out, “Lord, save me!”
And what is Jesus’ response? Matthew tells us: 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
As much as God has the power to save, he will not save until you ask him. He is the perfect gentleman, you see. He will never impose himself on you, let alone demand that you spend an eternity with him. So, here’s the question: Do you want to be saved? Then ask him!
Turning now to our reading in the Psalms, we find in this to be another passionate psalm written by David, the warrior-king. If you read carefully, you will see echoes of Joseph throughout the verses. Joseph was an ancestor of David many generations removed, and yet, it is the same faith in God’s goodness and provision that David speaks of. It is the same kind of faith that the multitudes have in Jesus’ day.
Implicit faith in the knowledge that this is a living God who cares for one’s human suffering — both physical and emotional — be it in the prison walls of Egypt as Joseph experienced, or in the mountains and caves running for his life when king Saul pursued David, or even the sickness and ill-health of the people who came to be healed by Jesus — may it be that our faith matches the faith of these people.
David’s words of praise are ones that are to be taken up by one and all– today, and in the days to come:
46 The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock!
Exalted be God my Savior!
47 He is the God who avenges me,
who subdues nations under me,
48 who saves me from my enemies.
You exalted me above my foes;
from violent men you rescued me.
49 Therefore I will praise you among the nations, O LORD;
I will sing praises to your name.
50 He gives his king great victories;
he shows unfailing kindness to his anointed,
to David and his descendants forever.
Finally, in our set of verses in Proverbs, Solomon tells us yet again about the virtues of clamoring for Instruction and Wisdom. He says:
11 I guide you in the way of wisdom
and lead you along straight paths.
12 When you walk, your steps will not be hampered;
when you run, you will not stumble.
13 Hold on to instruction, do not let it go;
guard it well, for it is your life.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word. Amen.