Bible reading for Jan 31: Genesis 32; Mark 3.
"I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant..." (Gen 32:10a)
Homeward bound (Gen 32). With Laban behind him, Jacob must now face his brother Esau. We may seek to escape unresolved conflict, but eventually we must face it. Jacob is afraid for his family's welfare as they return to encounter Esau, now heading toward them with 400 men. In humble prayer he acknowledges his own unworthiness and rests upon God's promise to do him good (32:9-12). This is the faith of our fathers. God spares Jacob and his family and there will be reconciliation between the brothers.
Wrestling with an angel (32:24-32). After taking every measure to protect his family, he is left alone and wrestles all night with "a man". We are not told how this contest came about. He had seen angels as he entered the land (32:1), and afterwards Jacob believes the one he wrestled was an angel, perhaps the angel of the Lord, for he says he had seen the face of God and lived. "Peniel" means "the face of God." Jacob is never condemned for his striving, for he had prevailed, and was given a new name, Israel. Holy effort is good; unholy effort is not. We strive to believe what God has said in his word, that he will bless us through his Son. Jacob wrestled to obtain the blessing that God had promised him, to do him good. But now, after his hip displacement procedure, Jacob will walk with a limp, a reminder of God's sovereignty over him. When we are not able (dis-abled), it is to impress upon us that God is able.
"Whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother." (Mark 3:35)
Jesus heals on the Sabbath (Mk 3:1-6), which continues to provoke the Pharisees. They thought that since Jesus healed during the week, then that was his regular work (i.e., his day job) and he should therefore not work on the Sabbath. It was perverted logic and it drives them to want to destroy Jesus. Sin always distorts one's thinking!
More opposition and blasphemy. He continues his ministry and calls twelve disciples (3:7-19), whom also calls apostles, who will become the foundation for the church age (Eph 2:20). Two sections follow, intertwined, about a) his misguided family coming to intervene and b) the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. These are related by unbelief, though one condition is terminal and the other not. First, his family is concerned that Jesus' ministry is out of hand and they come to forcefully intervene (3:20-21, 31-35). In a very counter-cultural way he puts his mother and his siblings in their place by not going out to receive and heed them (v. 31-35). As to the scribes who came from Jerusalem (3:22-30), they most likely knew Jesus was sent from God (see John 3:2 and Nicodemus' use of the plural "we"... "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.") So the scribes were not only opposing Jesus (sent from God the Father), but also speaking against the very work of the Spirit to authenticate Jesus. They were purposefully, and knowingly, opposing the triune God. If this sin is persisted in, there is no other way of forgiveness. I do not believe this sin is possible for truly born-again Christians, since they are born by this very Spirit of God.
Image above: Illustration from Bible Pictures and What They Teach Us (1897) by Charles Foster/Creative Commons/Public Domain.
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson. A PDF copy is available here.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.