Today’s readings are from Genesis 44, Mark 14, Job 10 and Romans 14.
Genesis 44 unfolds Joseph’s plan to reveal himself to his brothers. It begins with his silver cup being placed in Benjamin’s sack, to trump up charges against him (44:1-17). This section shows the change in the brothers’ hearts. Before, they were willing to sell Joseph despite his cries. Now they are willing to stand with Benjamin and become slaves or possibly die.
Judah pleads for Benjamin’s release in vv. 18-34, giving one of the most moving speeches in the Bible. He was willing to be a substitute, laying down his life for his brother, just as One of his descendants would lay down His life for the whole world. This, of course, moved the heart of Joseph, which was already disposed towards Benjamin without a word.
But this was the way to move towards complete reconciliation. The brothers saw and admitted their sin against Joseph, so not only forgive them but be reconciled.
Mark 14 joins John 12 in revealing the anointing of Jesus (for burial) by Mary (vv. 1-9).
In the ancient Middle East, the majesty of a king was expressed not only by what he wore—his jewelry and robes—but by his royal “aroma.” Even after a king was first anointed, he would perfume his robes with precious oils for special occasions. Listen to a line from King David’s wedding song:
You love righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God,
has set you above your companions
by anointing you with the oil of joy.
All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia.
Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg, Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus (p. 17)
Then Judas, possibly motivated by the “waste” of money on Jesus, agrees to betray Jesus (vv. 10-26). He attends the Passover with the other disciples, but is subtly pointed out by Jesus and leaves. On the way to the garden, Jesus predicts Peter’s denial (vv. 27-31), then prays (vv. 32-41). Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested (vv. 43-50).
Job 10 is Job’s “If I could just get an audience with God” speech. He says he would first ask God “Why are you doing this to me?” (vv. 1-7), then ask God “Why are you afflicting me, since you created me?” (vv. 8-12), then just a plaintive “Why God?” (vv. 13-17) and ends by asking God just to leave him alone (vv. 18-22). Jesus stands before the council (vv. 53-65) and Peter denies him, as Jesus had predicted (vv. 66-72).
Romans 14-15 talk about how to handle disagreements over “gray issues,” issues of conscience.
Philip Yancey once said…
“Christians get very angry toward other Christians who sin differently than they do.”
There is an excellent article by Andy Naselli and J. D. Crowley at 9 Marks on this issue at https://www.9marks.org/article/romans-14/. I would encourage you to go there and read that article. It is an edited excerpt from their book Conscience.
Those principles are…
- Welcome those who disagree with you. Don’t shun them. Sit down with them and talk it out.
- Those who have freedom of conscience must not look down on those who don’t (“stick in the mud,” “ultra-conservative”, etc.) (vv. 3-4)
- Those whose conscience restricts them must not be judgmental toward those who have freedom (“liberals,” “worldly”) (vv. 3-4)
- Each believer must be fully convinced of their position in their own conscience (v. 5)
- Assume that others are partaking or refraining for the glory of God (vv. 6-9)
- Do not judge each other in these matters because we will all someday stand before the judgment seat of God (vv. 10-12).
- Your freedom to eat meat is correct, but don’t let your freedom destroy the faith of a weak brother or sister (vv. 13-15).
- Disagreements about eating and drinking are not important in the kingdom of God; building each other up in righteousness, peace, and joy is the important thing (vv. 16–21).
- If you have freedom, don’t flaunt it; if you are strict, don’t expect others to be strict like you (v. 22a)
- A person who lives according to their conscience is blessed (vv. 22b-23)
- We must follow the example of Christ, who put others first (15:1-6)
- We bring glory to God when we welcome one another as Christ has welcomed us (15:7