January 17, 2016

Genesis 42-44
When Jacob learned that there was food in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you sit around here and look at one another?...Go down there and buy some food so we can survive and don’t starve to death.”  Ten of Jacob’s sons went down to Egypt to get food.  Jacob didn’t send Benjamin with them as he was afraid that something bad might happen to him...When Joseph’s brothers arrived, they treated him with honor, bowing to him.  Joseph recognized them immediately, but treated them as strangers and spoke roughly to them and calling them spies then ordered a test for them to prove that they were not by not having them leave Egypt until their youngest brother  comes down.  Then he threw them into jail for three days.  

On the third day, Joseph spoke to them...” I am a God-fearing man.  If you are honest as you say you are, one of your brothers will stay in jail while the rest of you take food back to your hungry families.  But you have to bring your youngest brother back to me, confirming the truth of your speech--and not one of you will die.”  They agreed.  Now they started talking among themselves re how they were now paying for what they did years ago to Joseph...Reuben broke in.  “Didn’t I tell you.  ‘Don’t hurt the boy?‘ But no, you wouldn‘t listen.  And now we are paying for his murder.”  Joseph was using an interpreter so they didn’t know that Joseph was understanding every word.  Joseph turned away from them and cried.  When he was able to speak again, he took Simeon and had him tied up, making a prisoner of him while they all watched.  Then Joseph ordered that their sacks be filled with grain, that their money be put back into their sacks and that they be given rations for the road.  When the brothers stopped for the night one opened his sack and found both grain and their money...They were puzzled and frightened.  “What’s God doing to us?”

When the brothers got back to Jacob, they told him everything that had happened...As they were emptying their food sacks, each man come on his purse of money.  On seeing their money, they and their father were upset.  Jacob said to them, “You’re taking everything I’ve got!  Joseph’s gone, Simeon’s gone, and now you want to take Benjamin.  If you have your way, I’ll be left with nothing.”  Reuben spoke up:  “I’ll put my two sons in your hands as hostages.  If I don’t bring Benjamin back, you can kill them.  Trust me with Benjamin;  I’ll bring him back.”  But Jacob refused, “My son will not go down with you.  His brother is dead and he is all I have left.  If something bad happens to him on the road, you’ll put my gray, sorrowing head in the grave.”  The famine grew worse and they had eaten up all the food they had brought back from Egypt so Jacob told his sons to go back and get some more food...But Judah said, “The man warned us most emphatically, ‘you won’t so much as see my face if you don’t have your brother with you.’  If you’re ready to release our brother to go with us, we’ll go down and get you food.  But if you’re not ready, we aren’t going.”  Israel said, “Why are you making my life so difficult!  Why did you ever tell the man that you had another brother?”  They said, “The man pushed us hard, asking pointed questions about our family.”... 

Judah pushed his father Israel.  “let the boy go:  I’ll take charge of him.  Let us go and be on our way---if we don’t get going, we’re all going to starve to death --we and you and our children too!  I’ll take full responsibility for his safety; it’s my life on the line for his.  If I don’t bring him back safe and sound, I’m the guilty one; I’ll take the blame.  If we had gone ahead in the first place instead of procrastinating like this, we could have been there and back twice over.”  Israel gave in.  “If it has to be, it has to be. But do this:  stuff your packs with the finest products from the land and...pay back double what was returned to your sacks; that might have been a mistake... Go back to the man. And may The Strong God give you grace in that man’s eyes so that he’ll send back your brother along with Benjamin.  For me, nothing’s left, I’ve lost everything.”

When Joseph saw that they had Benjamin with them on their return, he told his house steward to prepare a meal as these men would be eating with him at noon...The brothers became anxious when they were brought to Joseph’s house thinking “it’s the money; he thinks we ran off with the money...and now he’s got us where he wants us...he’s going to turn us into slaves and confiscate our donkeys.”  So the brothers went up to Joseph’s home and spoke to the steward who replied,.... Everything’s in order.  Don’t worry.  Your God and the God of your father must have given you a bonus.  I was paid in full.  And at that, he presented Simeon to them...  When Joseph got home, they presented him with the gifts and bowed before him respectfully before Joseph asked about Israel following which the brothers bowed before him again.  Then Joseph picked out his brother Benjamin and said, “God be gracious to you, my son.”  Deeply moved on seeing his brother and about to burst in to tears, Joseph hurried out into another room and had a good cry.  Then he washed his face, got a grip on himself, and returned...

The brothers were seated facing Joseph, arranged in order of their age, from the oldest to the youngest.  They looked at each other, wide-eyed, wondering what would happen next...when the meal was served, Benjamin’s plate came piled high, far more so than his brothers...Joseph instructed his steward to fill the men’s bags with food--all they can carry---and replace each one’s money at the top of the bag---then put my chalice, one of silver, in the top of Benjamin’s bag...At the break of day the brothers set out following which Joseph told his steward to run after them and confront them on taking the money and the chalice.  The brothers explained that they would never do something like that and “if the chalice is found on any of us, he’ll die and the rest the brother’s would become Joseph’s slaves.”  The steward responded, “Very well.  but we won’t go that far.  Whoever is found with the chalice will be a slave while the others would be set free...

The steward searched the bags going from oldest to youngest.  The chalice showed up in Benjamin’s bag.  The brothers ripped their clothes in despair, loaded up their donkeys and went back to the city.  Joseph was still at home when Judah and his brothers got back.  They threw themselves down on the ground in front of him...Judah as spokesman for the brothers said, “What can we say master?  What is there to say?  How can we prove our innocence?  God is behind this, exposing how bad we are.   We stand guilty before you and ready to be your slaves--we are all in this together, the rest of us as guilty as the one with the chalice.”  

Joseph responded that only the one involved with the chalice would be his slave while the rest were free to go back to their father...Judah came forward.  He said, “Please master: can I say just one thing to you?  Don’t get angry.  Don’t think I’m presumptuous -- You asked us, “Do you have a father and a brother?  And we answered you honestly....Benjamin’s brother is dead and he is the only son left from that mother.  And the father loves him more than anything...and now, can’t you see that if I show up before my father without the boy, this son whom his life is so bound up, the moment he realizes the boy is gone, he’ll die on the spot.  He’ll die of grief and we will have killed him...So let me stay here as your slave, not this boy.  Let the boy go back with his brothers.  How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me?  Oh, don’t make me go back and watch my father die in grief?” 

John 11:1 - 11:37
A man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary who massaged the Lord’s feet and her sister Martha.  So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “aster, the one you love so very much is sick.”  When Jesus go the message, he said,...”It will become an occasion to show God’s glory by glorifying God’s son.”  Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, but oddly, when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed on for two more days.  After the two days, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.”  They said to him, Rabbi, you can’t do that.  The Jews are out to kill you, and you are going back?”...He said, ...our friend lazarus had fallen asleep.  I’m going to wake him up.”...Jesus was talking about death while his disciples thought he was talking about taking  a nap.  Then Jesus became explicit:  “ Lazarus died.  And I am glad for your sakes that I wasn’t there.  You are about to be given new grounds for believing.  Now let’s go to him.”  That’s when Thomas, the one called the Twin, said to his companions, “Come along.  We might as well die with him!”

When Jesus finally got there, he found Lazarus already four days dead.  Bethany was near Jerusalem and many of the Jews were visiting Martha and Mary...Martha heard Jesus was coming and went out to meet him. Mary remained in the house.  Martha said, “master, if you’d been her, my brother wouldn’t have died.  Even now, I know that whatever you ask God, he will give you.”  Jesus responded, “You’re brother will be raise up... I am, right now, resurrection and life.  The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live.  And everyone who lives believing in me does not immediately die at all.  Do you believe this?”  “Yes Master.  All along I have believed that you are the Messiah, the Son of God who comes into the world.”  After saying this, she went to her sister Mary and whispered in her ear, The Teacher is here and is asking for you.”...When Mary’s sympathizing friends saw her run off, they followed her, thinking she was on her way to the tomb to weep there.  Mary came to where Jesus was waiting and fell at his feet, saying, “Master, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  When Jesus saw her sobbing and the Jews with her sobbing, a deep anger welled up within him....He said, “Where did you put him?”  “Master, come and see, “ they said.  Now Jesus wept.  The Jews said, “Look how deeply he loved him.”  Others said, “If he loved him so much, why didn’t he do something to keep him from dying?  After all, he opened the eyes of a blind man.”