Today’s readings are from Genesis 42, Mark 12, Job 8 and Romans 12.
Genesis 42 presents Joseph’s brothers’ first trip to Egypt. All of them went, except Benjamin. Joseph recognized them and “treated them like strangers and spoke roughly to them” (v. 7). He charged them as spies, but in denying it they told more of their story. He demanded that all be held hostage and one brother go get Benjamin.
This put them in a difficult situation and they began to feel guilty about their past. It has returned to haunt them. Joseph heard their guilt over mistreating him, and wept. In the end, he kept Simeon and sent the others back. On the way home, one of them found his purchase money still in his sack. God was really working on their consciences. Jacob, now bereft of Joseph and Simeon would not hear of sending Benjamin, even though Reuben pledged his own sons.
Having been rejected by His own people, Mark 12:1-12 gives a parable of judgment directed primarily towards the religious leaders. It is a parable of a vineyard leased to tenants, who when it was time for an accounting, killed every representative, including the man’s son. Thus, they ought to be judged and the nation, especially the religious leaders, would be judged.
Jesus’ opponents then try to trap Jesus with difficult questions.
- Should we pay taxes to Caesar? Careful, Jesus, there were some radicals in the group. Jesus asks for a coin and told them “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”
- Whose wife will she be? This exaggerated claim on the levirate marriage law assumes a tension between Moses and the resurrection. Jesus tells them two things: first, there is no marrying or giving in marriage in heaven (and possibly no exclusive marital relationships, since we will be married to our Bridegroom, Jesus); and second, even Moses was told “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” Therefore, God is the God of the living (not held captive to one period of time).
- Which law is greatest? You have 613 to choose from Jesus, which one is it? Jesus’ answer goes back to the shema in Deuteronomy 6:4-5.
Jesus then asks them a question. From the ESV Study Bible…
While in the temple, Jesus publicly raises a question that he has already discussed in private with his disciples: who is the Messiah of God—is he essentially the son of David or the Lord of David? Jesus’ point is not to deny that the Messiah is a descendant of David (e.g., Ps. 2, 89; Isaiah 9:1-7; Jere. 23:5-6; Ezek. 34:23-24). The issue is that, in this passage (i.e., Ps. 110:1-5), there is no mention of the Messiah being the son of David; rather, the Messiah is here the “Lord of David”. Jesus affirms the divine inspiration of the Psalm through the Holy Spirit. The Lord (Hb. Yahweh) grants to David’s Lord (Hb. ’Adonay) an exclusive place of honor at his right hand and helps David’s Lord overcome his enemies.
Scribes will receive a “greater condemnation” (v. 40) because of their pretentiousness, hypocrisy and greed, so beware their teaching (“leaven”).
Mark 12 ends with Jesus extolling the widow who put her last penny in the offering plate, totally trusting God to take care of her (vv. 41-44).
Job 8 begins Bidad’s speech against Job. Bildad and Zophar will both pick up and expand on themes from Eliphaz’s speech. Basically, Bildad exalts God’s justice (8:1-7). He establishes his reasoning on experience of past generations (8:8-10), then illustrates Job’s godlessness (8:11-19) and encouraged Job to repent so he could receive God’s blessing (8:20-22).
From the ESV Study Bible:
In his conclusion, Bildad asserts two things: if Job were a blameless man God would not have rejected him (v. 20); and the tent of the wicked will not stand for long (v. 22). Job will question the truth of each assertion: If a man were blameless, how could he show himself to be right before the God of justice (see 9:2)? And if shame and disaster are the fate of the wicked, how is it that the wicked so often appear to prosper in relative safety (see 12:6; 21:7)?
Romans 12:1-2 gives us two very important principles in spiritual transformation:
- Offer your body to God
- Renew your mind in the Word of God
Verses 3-8 talk about spiritual gifts. This is the normal consequence of offering our bodies and renewing our mind–serving the body of Christ. The key words in v. 6 are, if we have gifts ” let us use them.” Don’t let them sit dormant. The body of Christ and the mission of Christ needs you to use your gifts.
I think verse 3 is talking about spiritual giftedness. When Paul says…
3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
That “sober judgment” has to do with our own giftedness. If we have a gift, then we should step forward and submit it to the body. We are not omni-competent; we need each other (not “more highly”), but we do have a strength to give to the body (“the measure of faith that God has assigned”).
Vv. 9-21 give several practical commands about how to get along relationally within the body of Christ, especially with those who harm us (vv. 17-21). This last portion sets us up for Romans 13. We are not to take vengeance, but leave it to God, and one of the instruments God uses to exact vengeance is government (13:1-7).