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bible reading feb 5

Bible reading for Feb 5:  Genesis 38; Mark 8.

Then Judah identified them and said, "She is more righteous than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah." And he did not know her again. (Gen 38:26)

Judah's moral failure (Gen 38).  His failure is two-fold: his lack of family care for Tamar, his daughter-in-law; and his intercourse with [what he thought was] a local cult prostitute, who turned out to be his daughter-in-law. Both show his disregard for God's institution of marriage and family.  Add to that his self-righteousness when Tamar's pregnancy was discovered.  Nevertheless, in God's great mercy the messianic (royal) line will go through Perez, the son of Tamar by Judah (Matt 1; Lu 3). However, since this chapter is placed between the introduction of Joseph (37) and Joseph's sexual integrity (39), it's purpose is to show us that Joseph is a true man of God's covenant and points ahead to the perfect bride-groom, Jesus (Eph 5; see yesterday's post). 

Sometimes when we read about characters in the Bible we think, "that's bizarre!"  And it is, but it is not that the Bible is bizarre, but people in general are broken by sin and can do bizarre things.  Sometimes, some very bizarre things.  This is as true now as it was thenIf you don't believe me, just watch the evening news or a reality show... 

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And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, "Do you see anything?" And he looked up and said, "I see men, but they look like trees, walking." (Mark 8:23-24)

Peter's confession (Mark 8).  This chapter of Mark is the pivot, or hinge chapter, of Mark's gospel.  Chapters 1 through 8 deal with Who Jesus Is... his identity, his power, his authority... and how people come to realize this.  Peter's confession, "You are the Christ..." comes in this chapter.  But there's a different emphasis in chapters 9 through 16, that of What He Came To Do.  The focus is upon Christ's work, that he came to serve, to suffer, and to die, and then be raised from the dead. This was largely unexpected by most Jews of Jesus' day.  The Messiah as King would not suffer such indignities.  (They neglected to give full weight to Isaiah 53!)  At the end of the second half we hear the centurion's confession, at the feet of our crucified Savior, "Truly this man was the Son of God!" (15:39)  There's irony here: the centurion was soldier of the occupying Roman army, familiar with fighting, who is impressed not by the way Jesus fought, but by the way he died.  This would be the way the Roman empire would be overthrown, not by military engagement, but by the gospel! "And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death."  (Rev 12:11) 

Walking trees.  In this chapter Jesus performs his only recorded two-step miracle.  It was performed in stages.  It took two touches for the man to see clearly. This is not because the first time didn't work, it's because knowing Christ is not just knowing who he is, but also knowing the nature of his work as our Savior and Lord, and to follow his example. Peter, who boldly confessed the identity of Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah, would then rebuke Jesus for speaking of his death.  He did not see clearly that the Messiah came first to suffer and die, and to rise from the dead.  He needed another touch to open his eyes.  The two-step healing was an object illustration of our continual need for the Lord to clarify our sight.   

On the road.  The word for road or way (Gr., hodos) appears 16 times in this gospel. So the gospel begins, "Prepare the way of the Lord..." (1:2-3). It can mean a literal road or path; or the action upon that road, namely, a journey; or used figuratively, it denotes a way of life and teaching.  Mark's gospel overlaps these meanings to let us know that the Christian life is lived as a journey, following Jesus and living out his example.  This may explain, along with John 14:6, why the early church was called "the Way" (Acts 9:2; 19:9; 24:14, 22).  Salvation is more than thinking, it is living and doing. It is never less that thinking, but it certainly is more.  

My take-away: As a follower of Christ, are these words true of me: "For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. ... For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." (8:35, 38) Trusting Christ involves more than merely believing the right things, it is to take the right road and walk the right way. ...  Am I daily dying to self and sin?  Am I trusting him and following in his way? Am I unashamed to own him, to speak of him, and to stand for him in the face of this unbelieving, mocking, secular world that we live in?  

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.

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