Genesis 32 & Mark 3

Genesis 32

    Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. And when Jacob saw them he said, “This is God's camp!” So he called the name of that place Mahanaim.

    And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother in the land of Seir, the country of Edom, instructing them, “Thus you shall say to my lord Esau: Thus says your servant Jacob, ‘I have sojourned with Laban and stayed until now. I have oxen, donkeys, flocks, male servants, and female servants. I have sent to tell my lord, in order that I may find favor in your sight.’”

    And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, “We came to your brother Esau, and he is coming to meet you, and there are four hundred men with him.” Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed. He divided the people who were with him, and the flocks and herds and camels, into two camps, thinking, “If Esau comes to the one camp and attacks it, then the camp that is left will escape.”

    And Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O LORD who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your kindred, that I may do you good,’ 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, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps. Please deliver me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I fear him, that he may come and attack me, the mothers with the children. But you said, ‘I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.’”

    So he stayed there that night, and from what he had with him he took a present for his brother Esau, two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty milking camels and their calves, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. These he handed over to his servants, every drove by itself, and said to his servants, “Pass on ahead of me and put a space between drove and drove.” He instructed the first, “When Esau my brother meets you and asks you, ‘To whom do you belong? Where are you going? And whose are these ahead of you?’ then you shall say, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob. They are a present sent to my lord Esau. And moreover, he is behind us.’” He likewise instructed the second and the third and all who followed the droves, “You shall say the same thing to Esau when you find him, and you shall say, ‘Moreover, your servant Jacob is behind us.’” For he thought, “I may appease him with the present that goes ahead of me, and afterward I shall see his face. Perhaps he will accept me.” So the present passed on ahead of him, and he himself stayed that night in the camp.

    The same night he arose and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and everything else that he had. And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob's hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. Therefore to this day the people of Israel do not eat the sinew of the thigh that is on the hip socket, because he touched the socket of Jacob's hip on the sinew of the thigh.

(Genesis 32 ESV)


Mark 3

    Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.

    Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon. When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him. And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him. And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.

    And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons. He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

    Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”

    And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” And he called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. But no one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.

    “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”—for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”

    And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”

(Mark 3 ESV)



Something to Consider

Genesis 32: While anxious and somewhat fearful of his potential oncoming encounter with his brother Esau, Jacob finds himself suddenly in a wrestling match with a mysterious Stranger. Jacob's entire life had been one of conflict and contending against others. From the time He had been in the womb, he had fought for the covenant blessing of God and sought to triumph in getting it no matter what it may cost him. However, on this particular occasion, Jacob had met his match.

At some point in the scuffle, Jacob realizes that this was no mere Man. Jacob's opponent was God Himself in the appearance of flesh. For the first time in his life, Jacob's strength, skills and schemes were unable to secure the blessing he treasured so much. For the first time in his life, Jacob had been brought to his knees and was forced to plead with God for his prize. Aware of his weakness, Jacob clings to the only hope he has of prevailing - faith in the grace of God. 

Jacob was credited with the victory (Hosea 12), but it's clear that his victory wasn't a conquering one. Jacob's success was on account of his submission. His 'finishing move' was a death grip of faith. The Lord willingly suffers a loss to secure the victory and blessing for Jacob. 

The success of man's salvation is won through God's humble willingness to absorb the loss. May we abandon all attempts to secure our prize out of our own strength and stamina. Like Jacob, may we recognize our weakness and cling to Christ as our only hope of blessing. May we cry out to Him in faith, "I will not let go unless you bless me." Salvation is a matter much greater than 'accepting' Christ; it's a matter of clinging to Christ with all you got recognizing that your life is in the hands of His grace and mercy.         

 

Mark 3: Jesus calls the disabled man over to Himself, and the scene in the synagogue is a familiar one. The religious ‘insiders’ are standing and observing, and it’s the humble ‘outsider’ that has taken a step of faith in approaching Jesus. The question presented to the religious leaders is plain, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?." The answer seems so simple, but the religious leaders remain silent. 

Admitting that good should be done and a life should be restored would not violate the true intent of the fourth commandment, but it would contradict the traditions and man-made additions that had come to define what Sabbath observance looked like. The question proved to be a dilemma for the religious leaders - Do we denounce our moralistic traditions or do we denounce Jesus? Their silence proves their decision.        

How many of us in the church today are so caught up in our efforts to ‘be good’ that we overlook the opportunities around us to ‘do good’? 

This particular work of Christ brings two opposing sides of the cultural spectrum together in an effort to destroy Jesus. The Herodians were the supporters of Herod and promoted the immoral values of progressive Greek culture and the definitions of Greek philosophical truth. 

The Pharisees were the conservative traditionalists who held to the absolute truth found in the Hebrew Scriptures and looked to protect themselves from being contaminated by the culture around them. These two groups were in constant opposition to one another, but now they’ve found a common threat - Jesus.

The truth of the matter is that the true gospel of Christ is unsettling and offensive to both the conservative moralists and to the progressive ‘free-thinkers’. The conservatives are likely to say to themselves, “We’re good but they’re bad so we’re right.” The progressives are likely to say to themselves, “We’re tolerant but they’re judgmental so we’re right.” And the Bible would say that both are paths leading to self-righteousness. It is the uniqueness of the gospel of Christ that says, “We’re no better than anyone else, and we all need Christ to be made right.”