- The context needed going into our passage for this week is fairly simple (although, those who lived it out would see not way to call it simple, instead, words like painful, complicated, dysfunctional, excruciating would be chosen). Since we are able to look back at the story, in a very non emotional manner due to the fact that we were not a participant in this story, let’s make a ‘simple’ list:
- Jacob, the son of Isaac and grandson of Abraham had twelve sons by two wives and two concubines. His favorite of these women was unabashedly Rachel, and the favorite sons were the two birthed by Rachel, Joseph and Benjamin.
- Joseph, as a child and teen, was not the most intuitive individual, he appears to have not recognized his favored position, and frequently flaunted it before the other brothers. In addition to this, as God gives a vision of greatness to Joseph, he is quick to share that with them as well. As expected, Joseph was the little brother from hell who was despised and true hated by his bothers.
- The brothers, reach a final straw and sale Joseph into slavery, after, almost killing him.
- Joseph during a time in slavery and in prison, during which time he becomes a not only bearable human being but a trusted and admired leader in the foreign land of Egypt.
- Joesph save his family from starvation, proclaims forgiveness for his brothers’ actions, and moves them to Egypt.
This brings us to our passage for this week where we see father Jacob dying causing the brothers great anxiety as they consider the possibility that Joesph’s forgiveness was dependent on the existence of Jacob.
Our Exodus passage is the next phase of the deliverance of the Israelites. Pharoah released them following the tenth plague, the death of the first born males, to which they made a quick exit. They did not have time to celebrate this long awaited freedom, however, they already had the night before as they instituted the hugely significant celebration of the Passover feast…a celebration that proceed the event they celebrated. God had told them to be ready to exit Egypt and they were. In this week’s passage we see the ‘why’ a quick exit was necessary
This Psalm is written in a very unique poetic Hebrew style. While we are accustom to Psalm passage being written in literary manners such as the use of poetics, this one is different in that it is written by a Psalmist who is actually writing it for himself/herself. It is very personal, as the writer is calling themselves to a time of intentional time of praise in recognition of God’s mercy.
Two contextual perspectives help as we approach our passage for this week. First, look at it from a the shoes of Peter. Peter has voiced the risky, vulnerable, and accurate, revelation of the person of Jesus Christ. This was a verbal identification that the other disciples were still grappling with and/or just afraid of the ramification of saying it out loud – ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ This was a high moment for Peter, he was called a ‘Rock’ by Jesus and proclaimed the leader to the disciples when Jesus would be gone. However, it was a personal high for just a short time, he was soon called ‘Satan’ by Jesus, as Peter sought to detour Jesus from his journey to the cross which had already begun. Peter’s had walked on water with Jesus and then had to be rescued by Jesus.
The second perspective is the direction that Jesus is now heading. He is now going in the direction of the cross, he is heading into the danger zone of Jerusalem. His teachings have become more specifically directed at his followers, the crowded events are much less likely. The transfiguration has also taken place – an undeniable revelatory event which was witnessed by a small group of the disciples including Peter.
Our passage for this week is a passage of the communal relationships of the believers, what will soon be known as the ‘church.’ This focus on the church began in our readings last week as the conflict resolution steps were laid out in the beginning of chapter 18. Peter, being a person of action, is now attempting to
receive further guidance on the topic of forgiveness.
This will be our final reading in Romans for awhile and it ties in with our lesson on community that we had in the Matthew passage for this week. Paul is speaking to the church about community, and about acceptance of differences of people and differences in faith practices.
It seems to be a particularly relevant today when we have so much division within the church based on countless practices, emphasizes, theologies, politics, and traditions.