The gang of brothers return to Canaan today, explaining the intriguing events of their trip to Egypt. Jacob is upset by the news, “I am the one you have bereaved of children: Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and now you would take Benjamin!”
Jacob is not amused by Reuben’s request to return to Egypt with Benjamin, the youngest.
If you remember Jacob was the one who as a boy stole his brother’s birthright. Things have always been topsy-turvy for Jacob. His name in Hebrew refers to “heel” hearkening back to his birth when he grabbed onto Esau’s heel in the womb to try to beat him out.
And yet, Jacob has been showered with God’s blessing. He had many children, many wives, Old Testament code for “favorable in the eyes of God.” Now, in Egypt he has a source of food. But he doesn’t see that. Woe is Jacob. But, he IS blessed.
It is easy for us in America to feel like Jacob. The “woe is me” syndrome is always lurking it seems. And yet God has blessed us so richly. It is easy to take that for granted. It was not long ago, I was at a seminar where the speaker said: “The rich people in the room will know what I am talking about….” I began thinking to myself, “From the world’s perspective, especially the Third World’s perspective, EVERYONE in this room is rich.”
Focusing on blessing is not always easy.
There is an undercurrent of trust as well. All throughout the Old Testament we see this. Life hangs on by a thread – and we are called to trust God – God will deliver us. God’s story moves on, despite our “stuckness.”
This is the main point in the parable today in Mark, a parable we just talked about in the Senior High class last night.
For Mark the purpose of the parables is to perplex. Only the ones on the inside “get it”. He explains the parables to those disciples in private, but to many the meaning is hidden.
There are catchwords like: lamp, light, hear, more, given. The point is that the kingdom is sneaking up on people, enshrouded with mystery, not easily given to the light. One has to work in order to understand the meaning of things as they happen. The stories speak to the mystery of the kingdom. Things are hidden.
The good news of the gospel is that these words are in our hands already. We need to trust. We need to rest in the mystery of the kingdom. Things may not make perfect sense, but God is working things out.
How can we trust this? We know how the story ends! We know that the women leave the tomb not knowing what has happened, and fear and trembling filled them, and they told NO ONE of what they had seen and heard.
Obviously they told someone! We know the story, front to back.
So these parables fit into that mystery. They are yet more ways that the upsurge of good news and blessing from God is being cloaked along the way. Some get it; some don’t. But repeat after me: Things may not make perfect sense now, but God is working things out.
P.S. Thanks to Pierce for finding the great picture to go with today’s lesson on trust! The Senior High always give me energy and insight.