Bible reading for Feb 7: Genesis 40; Mark 10.
"And Joseph said to them, 'Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me.'" (Gen 40:8b)
God has spoken to the Patriarchs via dreams or visions, angels, and direct speech. The NT letter to the Hebrews begins, "Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world." (Heb 1:1-2) It is God who takes the initiative to speak and reveal his mind and will to us. Everything we know for sure about God, and can have faith in, comes at God's own disclosure. It is not we who find him out, he reveals himself. Even in nature, and history, and special revelation, everything rests upon God's revelation: "God stoops to state his purposes in our language and thought-forms which he first fashioned that we might think his thoughts after him, commune with him and serve him." (Carl Henry, God, Revelation and Authority, V:16)
We should know this, "...first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." (2 Pet 1:20-21) Our faith rests upon what what the apostles and prophets have written (2 Pet 3:2; Eph 2:19-20). "There is nothing more important in the age in which we live than to bear constantly in mind that all of Christianity rests precisely on 'external authority'." (B B Warfield, Sermons and Essays) That is, what we truly know about God rests upon what God himself has revealed. This is why we are reading the Bible together!
Divine delay. Meanwhile, Joseph waits for release from prison: "Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him." (40:23) How often we think or pray, "God, why am I still here? Have I been forgotten? Why is it taking so long?" We are apt to blame other people (and their forgetfulness or thoughtlessness) for the delays and disruptions in our lives. But we need, like Joseph, to take the long view and realize that God is working his perfect plan with perfect timing. (Peek ahead to Gen 50:20!) Jon Bloom writes, "Child of God, no matter what you are experiencing, sweet or bitter, good or evil, no matter how long it has lasted, God has not left you." Amen to that!
"And Jesus said to him, 'Go your way; your faith has made you well.' And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way." (Mark 10:52)
Comparing gospel accounts. Mark, the shortest of the four gospels, here gives us a longer account with more details when it comes to the blind men of Jericho healed by Jesus on his way to Jerusalem (10:46-52; compare Matt 20:29-34). See my comments here on Matthew's account. Here's what Mark adds: he mentions one blind man -- he does not say there was only one, or that there weren't others, but he focuses on this one blind man. He tells us his name, Bartimaeus. It is a hybrid of "Bar" (Heb., "son of") and "Timaeus" (Gr., "honor"). It is a meaning which his Greco-Roman readers would have understood. He is in a place of dis-honor, being poor and blind, but would soon receive honor in the calling, healing, and new life that Christ gives him.
Childlike faith. The same word "rebuke" is used in 10:13 (disciples --> children) and 10:48 (crowd --> blind man). Both the disciples towards the children, and the crowd toward the blind man, were irritated at the interruption and sought to stop it. Anyone with children can identify with their persistence and the frustration it causes us... "Are we there yet?" "You promised, you said that..." We may be irritated at this but apparently the Lord is not. He calls it, "faith" (v. 52). One aspect of faith was Bartimaeus' childlike persistence in calling on Jesus. When the crowd "shushed" him, he cried out all the more. So, faith that pleases God is faith that is not only dependent, humble, simple, but also, like Bartimaeus, persistent (see also, for example, Matt 7:7; Lu 18:7).
that, when Jesus called him, Bartimaeus threw aside his cloak (10:50). Unlike the rich young man who could not part with his many possessions, this poor man flings aside one of his few possessions, his cloak. This shows not only that he knew he would gain his sight, but also that his cloak would not be in the way of his coming to Jesus!
Serving (Mark 10:42-45). In this chapter Jesus also gives a much-needed leadership lesson to the disciples. And here's a great memory verse: "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45)
Image above: a painting of the healing of Bartimaeus. I have been unable to find the artist's name, and this work us usually listed in the public domain, but this may not be the case.
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.