(Genesis 38, Mark 8; Optional Psalm 27:7-14, Proverbs 7:4-5, 24-27)
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GENESIS 38 – In Gen 37 we were just introduced to the story of Joseph. What is this sordid tale doing here?! A daughter-in-law is deceived by then deceives and seduces her father-in-law, so Judah is father of the generation he would have been grandfather to. I suspect God is up to several things at once (like usual for our amazing God)…
First, this chapter is such a contrast with Joseph’s story. When Joseph is going through his years of a tough time, he flees temptation when he is seduced (Gen 39). Judah is himself going through a hard time (God executes two of his sons – v 7, 10 and his wife died – v 12). But in his pain, Judah lies to his daughter-in-law (v 11-14), thinks she’s a prostitute and uses her as one (v 13-18 – notice she is confident that Judah will sinfully respond), is quick to condemn her for unfaithfulness, unaware that she’s pregnant by him (v 24-26). Yuck! And yet, through all the sin and deceit…
Second, Gen 38 AGAIN lets us see that God is quietly at work in His mysterious ways, in His own time and in His own way bringing forth the Messiah. In Matt 1:3 we find that one of the twins that resulted from this sinful union of Tamar and Judah led in a few more generations to Boaz who married Ruth. A few generations more and King David comes from this line of Judah. About 1,000 years after David comes Jesus from this line of Judah. John the Apostle, going through his own incredibly hard time (all the other Apostles had been martyred, the church was under intense persecution, and he was exiled to the prisoner island of Patmos), hears these words in a vision from heaven: “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered…”
MARK 8 – In Mark 6:34-44, Jesus fed thousands in a Jewish crowd, multiplying five loaves and two fish so that the whole crowd “ate and were satisfied” (Mk 6:42) with twelve baskets of leftovers (Mk 6:43). When a Gentile woman begs Jesus to cast out a demon from her daughter, He reminds her (Mk 7:27) that He had primarily come for the children of Israel. Rather than take offense at His mini-parable where the Gentiles are represented by dogs, she persists with humble faith: “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” (Mk 7:27 – exactly the response that Jesus knew He would elicit from her). Now we’re going to see the Gentiles get far more than crumbs! In Mk 8:1-8 Jesus feeds this mostly Gentile crowd of thousands, this time multiplying seven loaves, a few fish, and leaving seven baskets of leftovers. Same result for Jew and Gentile crowds – “they ate and were SATISFIED.” (Mk 8:8)
Mk 8:12 – Notice the same word in Mk 7:34 when healing the man who was deaf and mute. Here Jesus is deeply disturbed by the Pharisees’ closed ears to all Jesus had been saying. And in Mk 8:14-21 Jesus is frustrated by His own disciples’ lack of hearing and seeing. They see a LITTLE, but not clearly. Then He acts out a parable of all this in Mk 8:22-25, in a unique two-stage miracle. After stage one (Mk 8:23 – another shocking use of spit in a miracle – also Mk 7:33) the blind man can see SOME, but needs more help from Jesus. THEN he can see clearly. That’s exactly what is happening slowly with the disciples….
Mk 8:29 – They definitely see SOME, recognizing correctly that Jesus is the Christ – the One promised throughout the OT (Old Testament). But they missed the whole SPIRITUAL point of Mk 8:11-21, thinking Jesus was talking about literal bread (though they had recently seen Jesus TWICE feed thousands with a few loaves – He’s not worried about physical bread)! And then in Mk 8:31 Jesus corrects the misunderstanding many had about the Christ – that He came to die and then rise again. This is the first of three times in Mark that Jesus prophesies His own death and resurrection, and every time the disciples respond in wildly inappropriate ways. Here, just after his correct insight that Jesus is the Christ/Messiah, Peter rebukes Jesus! They can see SOME, but have so far to go.
As so often in Scripture, we should be both encouraged AND humbled. ENCOURAGED that Jesus doesn’t just throw up His hands and get a new group! HUMBLED that those so close to Jesus STILL didn’t see very well who He was and what He was saying. ENCOURAGED that He loves us enough to push us further, not leaving us where we are in spiritual sight. HUMBLED because we ALL need this prodding and growing in spiritual sight and hearing!
Mk 8:31-38 – The cost AND the worth of following Jesus! Don’t miss v 38 – “and of my words”. Everybody seems to want to claim Jesus (or THEIR version of Jesus, selectively choosing from His words what they like). But Jesus is clear that you can’t have HIM apart from ALL that He taught.
Optional Psalm 27:7-14 – In his hard time (see all the talk of enemies in Ps 27:2, 6, 11-12), David wants to stay focused on God and worshipping HIM in all His beauty (Ps 27:4, 6, 7, 11, 14). When in a rough time it’s easy to focus on SURVIVING. May we stay focused on WORSHIPPING our great God. Wait for His timing and eventual deliverance (maybe seen only in heaven) and worship Him!
Optional Proverbs 7:4-5, 24-27 – The end of the story of sexual sin – death and destruction. Also James 1:15-16 – “…sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.”