Gen 49:29-33; 50:15-24; Mt 10:24-33

Today’s scriptures are an interesting mix.  They are about some interesting relationships.  Parents, children, siblings, God, disciples and Christ.  You really have to pay attention to what is being said.  In Genesis, the continuing sordid story of Jacob, Joseph and the wicked brothers.  The psalmist speaks of the sons of Jacob as “his chosen ones!”  Chosen ones?  And in Matthew, Jesus encourages his disciples.  He assures his followers that God loves and is watching over them.  Yet He closes with a stern warning about denying Christ.

One of the things I love about God’s word is that there’s no sugar coating it.  The bad guys are scum and what happens to them is made quite plain.  No room for interpretation.  No wiggle room.  Nothing lost in the translation.  Or is there?  Everyone knows the story of Joseph and the coat of many colors.  Well, the story continues here.  As Jacob is dying he gives eloquent and detailed instructions to his sons about his burial.  The sons then go to Joseph and say, “dad just died and he said that even though we tried to kill you, you’re supposed to forgive us.”  And Joseph buys it!  And in an ironic twist, at the end of the story, Joseph gives his brothers explicit instructions on his burial.  Sheesh!  Any bets on where Joseph’s bones wound up?  These guys are the bad of the bad.  They have got to be candidates for the lake of fire.  And yet the psalmist refers to them as “sons of Jacob, his chosen ones.”  These men and their descendants will build the nation of Israel.  Could it be that I’m too quick to rush to judgement?  Could it be that God can use an imperfect human being to accomplish His will? 

And in Matthew, Jesus instructs “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body.  Be afraid of the one who can destroy the soul.”  He tells us that God knows every hair on our head.  God cares when a sparrow falls to the ground.  How much more will God care for us.  Everything seems sweetness and light.  And then it comes.  “Whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.”  This seems like such a hard command.  For me, it’s not so tough.  I may be ridiculed or mocked because of my faith.  Big deal.  What of the person who may be jailed, tortured or killed for professing Christ?  It happens in the world today.  How am I to pray for this person?  How can I support fellow Christians who are afraid to acknowledge Christ?  Jesus is explicit on who we should fear and who we should acknowledge.  It still seems hard.  You really have to listen to what Jesus has to say.

By Daniel Patrick O'Reilly