This is something new. There is still my irritating bad back and that annoying voice in my head keeps telling me not to write. But… the computer froze. I couldn’t get it to shut down, nor could I get it to open the task manager. It was completely frozen. The only option was to switch it off at the wall and start again. This gave me time to read the day’s readings on my iPad while the computer did its stuff. So I have had more time than usual to both wrestle with my inner voice and think about what links the readings and how that impacts on my daily life.
Genesis 42 and 43 depart from the over familiar story of the musical version of “Joseph” and tells a part of the tale I didn’t know. Joseph threatens his brothers with jail unless they bring Benjamin to Egypt. They agree and leave Simeon behind as proof that they will return. But back home, Jacob refuses to let Benjamin (his beloved youngest son) go to Egypt. The brothers tell Jacob that the money they used to buy grain was returned to them. They are confused by this gesture, believing it to be a sign from God. Unknown to them, Joseph had secretly put it there as he did not want to take money from his own brothers.
Eventually, Jacob agrees to let Benjamin go. Judah promises to look after him. Back in Chapter 37 it was Judah who suggested selling Joseph to the traders, rather than letting him die in the well. Not all the brothers, it seems, are bad. In fact, Reuben (the only one who did not put Joseph in the well) also told Jacob he would look after Benjamin.
Back in Egypt, the brothers approach Joseph’s house nervously. The brothers still, of course, do not realise that this man IS Joseph. They have brought the money back, plus extra money and gifts. But the master of Joseph’s house tells them they have already paid for the grain they had. This is another gesture of kindness from Joseph. He plans to invite them to a feast in is house. But they fear for their lives and are amazed when Joseph himself serves them. It is all very odd!
Matthew 13 and 14 have a decidedly serious tone to them. After the cheery parables of the last few days, Jesus has some difficult work to do. He has arrived at his home in Nazareth. (13:57) But “A prophet is honoured everywhere except in his hometown and among his own family.”
In Chapter 14 we learn of the death of John The Baptist. The coward King Herod Antipas, who feared a riot if he executed John, had him thrown into jail. His daughter (under instructions from his wife) tricked him into promising her anything she wanted. (14:8) “Bring me the head of John the Baptist on a tray!”
So what does this mean? Joseph’s brothers are no longer so confident. Joseph cares deeply for them, despite everything. Jesus is given a rough ride my his own town and even (it seems) his own family. And Herod is indirectly tricked by his own wife into killing John. The link is families. It seems you can’t have a good family life. Can you? There is still some hope. Joseph’s story isn’t over yet.
Psalm 18 continues the prayer for protection against the enemies of the writer. “The Lord rewarded me for doing right.” This line is repeated, so it’s an important one. What is right? “I have kept the ways of the Lord.” and “I have kept myself from sin.” It’s not easy, but “God arms me with strength.”
And what rewards can we expect? Proverbs 4 continues with “[Wisdom] will place a lovely wreath on your head… and you will have a long, good life.”
Is there a Joseph in your family? By that I mean someone who will help you out no matter what. Someone who will always see the good in you and not just keep dragging up the bad stuff that you did?
Or is your family one of those like Herod’s which plots against itself for personal gain?
I’ve got a Joseph!