Today’s Genesis story basically finishes off the story of Joseph. Although, it has a bit of a Lord of the Rings ending in that it goes on and on with several blessings being passed out and whatnot. Interestingly, Jacob, who is really named Israel by this time, gives the greater blessing to Ephraim, Joseph’s second son. Revenge of the younger child, I suppose. For those keeping score at home, none of Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and now Ephraim are the oldest in their family. Hmm. Neither is David. What do these Hebrews have against responsible productive oldest children. Hmm. Prodigal Son. Hmm.
In Matthew we have some famous stories right in a row. Jesus stills the troubled water, then (after some parables) the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus walks on water, then the feeding of the four thousand. What to do with these stories? Perhaps they are straight miracle stories. They demonstrate Jesus’ power and maybe they happened as described. That’s hard for us to handle having never witnessed anything close to that in our lifetimes. Perhaps they are miraculous explanations for normal things: Jesus’ presence was so comforting it seemed the storm went away, Jesus’ compelled the hungry followers to be generous and created abundance from scarcity (twice), and–my favorite–Jesus learned how to walk on reeds in the Sea of Galilee. Perhaps, they are stories to show Jesus’ greatest, greatest focussed around people, and they did not really happen.
I used to love the second solution–minus the walking on reeds silliness–but have come to wonder if there is any reason for it. The difference between solutions one and three can be subtle. Did it happen? Did the teller think it happened? Did the reader/listener think it happened? As usual, I’ve mostly got questions.