Genesis 32:13-34:31, Matthew 11:7-30, Psalms 14:1-7, Proverbs 3:19-20
Today is the 16th day of January, welcome to the Daily Audio Bible I’m Brian it is wonderful to be here with you today as we continue the voyages that we have begun just days ago. So, we have set sail and we are moving our way into and through the Bible this year. We’re working our way through the book of Genesis in the Old Testament, in book of Matthew in the New. We’re reading from the Christian Standard Bible this week. Today Genesis chapter 32 verse 13 through 34 verse 31. And we’re talking about Jacob right now. We have met Abraham. We have met Isaac. And now we are encountering the life of Isaac’s son Jacob who had to flee away from his brother Esau because of his conniving. Now he is on his way home and he has experienced the other side of his conniver-y with his…his uncle Laban. So, where we pick up the story, Jacob has left Laban and is returning to his family. It’s been two decades. Laban found out about it and chased him down and there was a confrontation and a treaty was made. Now Jacob is continuing south toward his family and he sent some servants out in front of them to make contact with his brother Esau. And Esau is now on his way to meet Jacob with 400 mercenaries. So..so, Jacob has split his camp into two hoping that if one gets attacked the other might have a chance of survival. And that’s where we are. Genesis chapter 32 verse 13 through 34 verse 31.
Okay. There’s a few things that we need to talk about in order to keep our place in the story and in order to keep the Bible speaking…speaking into our stories. So, in the book of Genesis, we’ve been working…working our way through the story of Jacob. Jacob’s on his way back toward where his family has been dwelling to the south and Esau finds out he’s on his way and before they all meet up there’s this really interesting story where Jacob wrestles with somebody and that somebody has been a point of theological conjecture for a long, long, long…centuries, where some biblical scholars would say he's…he’s actually wrestling with God, like actually wrestling with…with an embodied version of God on the earth. And other people would say, “no. He’s wrestling with his brother Esau who found him and them they kind of fought it out because later on Jacob’s like, “seeing you is like seeing the face of God.” And…and, you know, we could try to really dig deep there, but what happened there is what is so important to where the story is headed because Jacob who is the grandson of Abraham, right? So, Abraham has Isaac his son, who then has Jacob his son. Jacob does this wrestling match and then in the process is given a new name and that new name is important. That new name is Israel and that shift actually bestowed identity upon his children as well because…well…from this point forward, we will begin to start seeing them as one people, the children of Israel.
Okay. Then in Matthew we have to look underneath the surface and see how people are responding to Jesus teachings and what people are thinking about Him Because we can read it from a couple of thousand years into the future and just, you know, try to pull out Jesus good moral teachings, and, you know, people today can read Jesus and be like, “who…who doesn’t agree with all this?” But the people during Jesus time, they did not agree with all that he was saying, in part because Jesus was describing the plot behind the story. Like He’s describing how things really are and nobody comprehends it. He’s revealing a kingdom that nobody can see and yet He’s talking as they would have expected the Messiah to talk. So, we know that John announced the way and even baptized Jesus and we know that John was arrested, and he was imprisoned. And at the end of our reading yesterday he had sent some of his disciples to Jesus with an important question, “are you the one or should we be looking for somebody else”, which is a fascinating question when you were the prophet that announced the arrival of the Savior. So, now John’s in prison going, “is He the One?” Like…and that gives us a lot of clues about what people were expecting, including John. The idea of a restoration of the people to God, where they could come under their own governing rule and be their own sovereign people set apart to God once again, that was an old story. It hadn’t been that way for these people for a very, very long time. So, this…this person, this miracle worker, wisdom teacher, prophet figure named Jesus shows up on the scene. We know who He is so I’m not saying only a wisdom teacher or whatever, but they didn't…like…He shows up on the scene and He sets their hearts on fire, but they don’t fully comprehend. And even John is like, “hang on. Are you the one, because we were, you know, like, I want…I need somebody to bust me outta here in time for the revolution?” And Jesus says, “look. Go back and tell John what you’ve seen. Go tell Him what I’m doing, that the…the eyes of the blind are being opened and the ears of the deaf are being able to hear and the dead are being raised and good news is being told to the poor and disenfranchised people. Go…go tell him that.” So, Jesus is saying, “what do you mean am I the one? I’m revealing the kingdom. Everywhere I go the kingdom is revealed. The kingdom is touching people’s eyes. The kingdom is touching people’s ears. The kingdom is touching people’s lives.” Right? So, we get this clear understanding that what the people were expecting in a Messiah was different than what God was revealing to them and the kingdom that they were hoping would come was already among and within them and they couldn’t see it. And Jesus is trying to show it to them, to reveal it to them, to open their eyes to it, which is the kind of things He says all the time. In other words, that their consciousness will become aware of something greater than they were already perceiving, that they would become intimately aware of something greater than themselves right there as opposed to the God that they had put in the box called a temple. So, as we begin in Matthew today Jesus is still talking about John. His disciples have left to go give John the message but He’s talking to the people. “Why did you go…why did you go out into the wilderness to see John? What was…what was…what were you looking for? Looking for a read swaying in the wind? Then what we looking for? Were you looking for somebody in nice clothes? Then you went to the wrong place. You need to go to the royal palace to find place…people like that. Why did you go see John? Did you go to see a prophet?” There you go. He is a prophet. And then he says something really, really interesting. “Among those born of women no one greater than John the Baptist has appeared, but the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he, for from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has been suffering violence and the violent been seizing it by force.” Okay, is a super popular passage of Scripture, but it feels confusing until you understand what’s going on here. Jesus is talking about the kingdom of heaven and He’s not talking about it as a future thing. He’s revealing the kingdom and inviting those with ears to hear and eyes to see to step into it and the first step is to become aware of it. And, so, He’s saying like, “there’s no one greater than John the prophet in the world except those who have stepped into the kingdom.” But this will remain confusing throughout Jesus ministry because it remains confusing now. Jesus is revealing a kingdom that exists now and the journey to it is inward and all they were looking for was external. And, so, here Jesus words, “let anyone who has ears listen.” He says it all the time. And then he keeps commenting. He’s basically saying, “it’s been sitting here in front of you in a number of ways, and you can’t see it.” So, He’s like, “what should I compare this generation to? This generation’s like kids sitting in the marketplace and they call out to other kids. We played the flute for you, but you didn’t dance. We sang a lament, but you didn’t mourn.” In other words, “we gave you the song and you ignored it.” Jesus said, “John came and neither eating nor drinking and everybody said he has a demon. And, so, then I come and I eat and I drink and you’re like you’re a glutton and a drunkard and you’re a friend of sinners and tax collectors.” So, what we’re watching here is pure truth, pure wholeness be completely misunderstood and mis-judged by people living backward to the way they were designed. And Jesus is like, “it’s right here calling to you and your labeling it the wrong things. Your labeling John as a person who has a demon. You’re labeling me as a son of Beelzebul. You’re claiming I’m a glutton because I eat and drink. You’re claiming I’m a drunkard and a friend of sinners because I hang out with people who need help.” So, what is it underneath all this that Jesus can see? What is it he can see that nobody else can see? What is he trying to get them to understand? We touched on this earlier. Jesus is walking the path of wisdom and revealing it with anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear. In fact, He’s, like, “you say John is a demon because he doesn’t eat or drink. You say I’m a glutton because I do, yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” In other words, Jesus is saying to the people the same things He said to John’s disciples, “look at what I’m doing.” In fact, Jesus goes on to pray to the Father. “I praise You Father, Lord of heaven and earth because you have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent.” In other words, those who think they know. “And have revealed them to infants.” In other words, children. And He goes on to pray, “this is the good pleasure of the Father” and that “all things have been entrusted to Jesus by the Father” and…and “nobody knows the Son except the Father” and “no one knows the Father except the Son” and “anyone to whom the son desires to reveal Him.” And then He has does reveal Him. “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me because I’m lowly and humble in heart, and you’ll find rest for your souls. My yoke is easy, my burden is light.” Again, super, super famous quotable stuff there. We’ll recite it like a mantra when were in the chaos of life, “His yoke is easy, His burden is light. He’ll give me rest for my soul.” We don’t understand this is a whole conversation that Jesus is having, one in which He’s telling His friends essentially, people aren’t gonna get you and that can get really nasty at times, even to the point where you get hauled into court and not know what to say, but if you will trust God He’ll tell you what to say. But they’re not going to get you. You’re the light of the world and the darkness doesn’t like the light. It exposes what’s in the dark and nobody wants that. Everybody’s claiming they just want the truth but what they want is just a better way to curate their lives and keep hidden what’s hidden and what’s exposed exposed. But Jesus is saying like the truth will set you free. I’m here for all light everywhere, nothing hidden. Everything that’s hidden will be revealed. And that is going to infuriate many people along the way because they won’t necessarily see it as an invitation to their freedom. The same kind of principles apply in recovery programs, right? Like you need to reach the end of yourself. You need to reach your rock bottom. In other words, all your shenanigans and all your games and all the things you’re trying to make life look as if it’s working, that all has to come crumbling down until you’re at the very very bottom and then you can begin. Jesus is fundamentally saying, all the constructs that you have made about yourself and all of the darkness that you’ve hidden in those places, that all has to come down and then you can begin. And if you realize that most of your life is built in pride and fear and constructs around that, and contrast that with Jesus who is lowly, humble in heart, we can see the plot that Jesus is telling is to a different story than the one we’re living. We’re so often seduced by our culture. It’s got to be bigger, it’s got to be better, it’s got a stronger, it’s gotta be faster, it’s got to be more individual, it’s gotta be more noticeable, it’s gotta throw us up the charts, it’s gotta put the spotlight on us, it’s got to reveal to the world what one single person can do. We gotta keep clawing, we gotta keep scratching, we gotta keep not taking no for an answer, we gotta out do those around us, we’ve gotta be superior to them, we’ve gotta be above them. It’s says, if that’s the goal we gotta put…put ourselves in a position where we have no vulnerabilities. And we remember that you can’t be known without vulnerability. And remember that Jesus said, there’ll be people who prophesied my name and I’ll say I never knew you.” And, so, what we’re seeing is Jesus saying, “there’s a different way to be human in this world. Your Father knows what you need and if you are only looking around you at everybody else. If you are only looking at what you can experience with your five physical senses, you will only ever experience lack because that’s not all there is. You have a heart made for God and you can let the mind of Christ open in you, or you can chase the chaos and keep trying to make your own self in your own image. It’s up to you.
Father, we invite You into that. These…these themes, they’re…they’re so constant in the Scriptures that we invite Your Holy Spirit to continue to bring them up in us because they will change us. Like, we will either come to the place where we close the Bible and set it down and walk away and say, “that is not where I want to go” or will say, “this is…this…this is what I’ve been looking for my whole life and I embrace it fully.” But this half and half out that we continually try to live, it doesn’t work. It won’t. And, so, we invite Your Holy Spirit to come and show us what “all in” looks like with You. And we have what we need to see because we are seeing You go “all in” on our behalf as we read the Gospels. So, come Holy Spirit we pray. In the name of Jesus, we ask. Amen.
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