Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - Gen 41
"Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah" (Gen 41:45),
which signifies in Egyptian "supporter of life", or "savior of the
"When all Egypt began to feel the famine, the people cried to
Pharaoh for food. Then Pharaoh told all the Egyptians, 'Go to Joseph and do what
he tells you' " (v 55).
The "king of this world" (Pharaoh) is approached by the poor
and needy and hungry of this world, but he can do nothing to alleviate their
suffering. So he sends them with a beseeching message to the "savior of the
world" (Joseph). Only in him could man find deliverance.
Reading 2 - Psa 45:1
"My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses
for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer" (Psa 45:1).
Psalm 45 is a "miniature Song of Songs". Both Scriptures
describe the marriage of a great "king" to a special "bride". The righteous King
(vv 2,7), taken from among his fellows (v 7), but now elevated above all them to
sit on God's throne (v 6), celebrates a great marriage (vv 9-11). This is none
other than "the marriage of the Lamb" (Rev 19:7-9), with his "Bride" who has
been taken out of the Gentiles (vv 11,12)! This King is also a great High Priest
(cp Isa 61:1,2,10: a "bridegroom who decketh himself as a priest"), for (as in
the Song of Songs) he is described in imagery reminiscent of the temple and its
services. It is because of the surpassing sacrifice which the great King-Priest
has offered that his prospective Bride has been cleansed, and prepared for him
(Eph 5:25-27, citing Song 4:7; cp Song 6:8,9).
MY HEART IS STIRRED BY A NOBLE THEME: "Stirred" is the Hebrew
"rachash" = "to boil or bubble up" (AV mg), overflowing like a perennial,
inexhaustible spring. This conveys an eager enthusiasm that cannot be
restrained. "My heart overflows with a goodly theme" (RSV). "Out of the
abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh" (Mat 12:34,35). The common Hebrew
word for prophet (nabi) is from another root which also signifies "to bubble
forth". Surely here is a holy man of God speaking as he is moved by the Holy
Spirit (2Pe 1:21).
MY VERSES: The AV translates "the things which I have made",
or "framed", a word, and phrase, used frequently about the tapestry and other
handiwork of the Tabernacle and the Temple. Our words and thoughts are veritable
"temples" in which God is most truly enshrined and worshipped! The "temple"
motif is very evident in this psalm, as in the holy anointing oil of the priests
(v 8) and the needlework and wrought gold (vv 13,14). (Compare the almost
inexhaustible Temple imagery of the Song of Songs -- where both King and Bride
are rapturously described in terms of temple worship.)
If our heart is stirred by these themes, then our "verses",
our words and actions, will be -- like the curtains of the Temple -- a beautiful
piece of handiwork that speaks of the Glory of our God.
We should remember that, every day, we are "building" and
"furnishing" and "decorating" a "temple" which brings praise to our Heavenly
"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy
Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;
you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body" (1Co
Reading 3 - Mat 27:29
"[They] twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his
head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked
him. 'Hail, king of the Jews!' they said" (Mat 27:29).
"In making fun of the king of the Jews, they were
[unknowingly] mocking, not Christ, but their own Caesar, and every Caesar, king
or ruler than ever had been, or will be. They were making human power itself a
subject of scorn. Thenceforth, for all to see, thorns sprouted under every
golden crown, and underneath every royal robe there was stricken and smitten
flesh" (M Muggeridge).
"The figure of the Crucified invalidates all thought which
takes [worldly] success for its standard" (D Bonhoeffer).
From that time forward, every power and every pretension of
foolish mankind would be ludicrous alongside the one true crown, the crown of
thorns worn by Jesus. From that time forward, the only meaningful power would be
that which originated in his suffering.
"Let the crown of thorns make those Christians blush who throw
away so much time, pains, and money, in beautifying and adorning a sinful head.
Let the world do what it will to render the royalty and mysteries of Christ
contemptible, it is my glory to serve a King thus debased; my salvation, to
adore that which the world despises; and my redemption, to go unto God through
the merits of him who was crowned with thorns. Let us pay our adoration and
humble ourselves in silence at the sight of a spectacle which faith alone
renders credible, and which our senses would hardly endure. Jesus Christ, in
this condition, preaches to the kings of the earth this truth -- that their
sceptres are but reeds, with which themselves shall be smitten, bruised, and
crushed at his tribunal, if they do not use them here to the advancement of his
kingdom" (Quesnel, cited by Adam Clarke).