Have you ever noticed that Hollywood loves epic journey movies? Think about it: There’s RV (see the movie trailer above), Rat Race and of course, the original epic journey movie: It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
The epic journey story dates back to the Odyssey by Homer. Some of the stories are comedies, others are not.
But one common thread seems interwoven through all of them: the main character or characters undergo a transformation—usually for the better. And they usually come at the price of pain.
In today’s reading, you’re going to witness a painful but positive transformation–and the journey of pain that made all the difference. Perhaps you share a common journey…
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INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
Genesis 39:16. Think back to chapter 37. What contributed to the contention between Joseph and his brothers? A cloak. What did Potiphar’s wife use as evidence of Joseph’s attempted rape? A cloak. Coincidence? I think not.
Genesis 39:20. Something tells me Potiphar wasn’t completely convinced by his wife’s accusations of Joseph. Rather than execute him, Potiphar threw Joseph into the royal prison, which was more comfortable than other prisons and which also gave him accessibility to members of Pharaoh’s court.
Genesis 40:19. The NIV translators softened this verse. Literally, Joseph told the king’s (former) baker that he was going to be impaled on a pole. By leaving the baker impaled and exposed, people at that time believed it prevented their soul from resting in the afterlife.
Genesis 41:1-16. Notice how dreams continually appear in Joseph’s story.
Matthew 12:46-50. We’ll explore this later in our journey through the Bible, but I can’t escape the fact that Jesus redefined the family in this passage.
Matthew 13:1-23. I’ve studied this parable so many times that it often loses its full force. This time, however, I’m struck by the role my heart plays in growing in my faith and in being healed (Matthew 13:15).
Psalm 17:8. The Bible Background Dictionary explains the meaning of apple of your eye: “Literally the term is ‘the little one of the daughter of your eye.’ This idiomatic expression is also found in Deuteronomy 32:10. The pupil or apple of the eye is the most sensitive part of the body and thus the part needing the most protection.”
Psalm 17:10. Interestingly enough, this psalm addresses calloused hearts just like our reading in Matthew.
THE WORD MADE FRESH
It’s a long hard road from Canaan to Egypt…
Joseph’s long caravan ride to Egypt must have given him ample time to evaluate his shortcomings and regrets.
After his arrival in Egypt, the writer of Genesis goes to great lengths to emphasize that God was with Joseph—despite his forcible enslavement (verses 2, 3, 5 and 23). If God’s hand was on Joseph’s life, why would God allow him to continue in slavery? Why would he allow Joseph to be falsely accused, thrown into jail, and then forgotten? It doesn’t sound like God’s blessing.
Or does it?
Sometimes I wonder if God’s perspective on pain is different than ours. Character is forged in the fires of suffering. The greater the heat, the deeper the change. C.S. Lewis once wrote, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
While I prefer that God change me in an instant, my calloused heart usually requires a great deal of time and a measure of pain. In the process of suffering, I wrestle against the temptation of become embittered against God. Sounds like the parable of the sower and the seed in our reading in Matthew 13. Soft, fertile soil produces a much greater harvest than the soil beaten down on the path.
Really, it’s a choice between becoming bitter or better.
Obviously, Joseph chose the better way.
I pray that I can do the same.
- How did God’s word speak to you today?
- What do Jesus’ words in Matthew 12:46-50 tell you about his’ definition of family?
- In his parable of the sower and the seed, Jesus described the soil in four areas: the path, the shallow soil, weeds, and fertile soil. Which best describes you?
- Have you ever experienced a journey like Joseph? How did it change you? What does your journey look like right now?
- Some legs of the journey include injustice and false accusation. What does this say about God and the journey?
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