As we saw last week, even at the tender age of seventeen Joseph, Jacob’s eleventh son, was an upright young man. Though at that time he was the youngest of the brothers who were shepherding their father’s flock (Benjamin was not yet old enough), he wasn’t afraid of bringing a bad report about his older siblings to his father.[1] No doubt this upright young man had been an upright little boy. Perhaps this is why he was so openly favored by his father who even went to the length of making Joseph an ornate robe, such was his deep affection for him. Although parents will often say they love all of their children equally, it must be difficult not to have an especial love for a child who seeks to please you by being obedient and doing what is right. Yet there may be repercussions when a parent displays such favoritism to one child over another. In the case of Joseph, as stated in verse 4, “When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.” Their father’s love for Joseph resulted in their corresponding hate for him.

Now though only seventeen, as we also saw last week, Joseph had two dreams that turned out to be prophetic given their divine origin. In the first, his brothers’ sheaves bowed down to his own sheaf;[2] in the second, eleven stars—in other words his ten older brothers plus his younger brother, Benjamin—as well as the sun and stars, his father and step-mother, Leah, bowed down to him.[3] Consequently, Joseph’s brothers hated him “all the more.”[4] This isn’t hyperbole. The word “hate” or one of its forms occurs three times in the first eight verses.[5] And if the opening of Genesis 37 establishes how it was that Joseph’s brother came to hate him, the remainder of the chapter demonstrates how their hatred worked itself out of their hearts and into their deeds.

Now whereas at the start of the chapter Joseph was shepherding with his brothers, as we saw last week verse 12 notes that later his brothers were grazing the flocks without him near Shechem.[6] Israel, their father, wondered about his sons therefore he said to Joseph, verse 14, “‘Go and see if all is well with your brothers and with the flocks, and bring word back to me.’ Then he sent him off from the Valley of Hebron.” Again, perhaps Israel was concerned that his sons had been away too long and therefore was worried about them. Or, perhaps he was concerned that they weren’t doing their work and consequently he sent Joseph, who at least once before had brought a bad report about them,[7] to check up on them to see what they were up to. Therefore Joseph headed off to Shechem, the place that his brothers had initially gone to graze their father’s flock.

When Joseph arrived there, verse 15, “a man found him wandering around in the fields and asked him, ‘What are you looking for?’” Joseph answered, verse 16, “I’m looking for my brothers. Can you tell me where they are grazing their flocks?” Upon learning that the man had overheard them say they were going to Dothan, a city about fifteen miles north of Shechem, verse 17, “Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan.” His brothers, however, were not happy about his arrival. As stated in verse 18, “But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.” Again, the brothers’ feelings towards Joseph went well beyond finding him to be an annoying, pesky little brother. The animosity they felt towards him exploded into a hatred so great that “they plotted to kill him.”

The brothers’ plot is described beginning with verse 19 as they said to one another, “19 Here comes that dreamer! …. 20 Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him.” Joseph’s brothers began pouring out their anger by mocking the divine dreams their younger brother had shared with them. Though the Hebrew word translated as “dreamer” means “master of dreams” or “dream expert,”[8] it’s evident that the brothers are applying this term to him in a dismissive manner. In an attempt to make sure that his dreams would never come to fruition, they came up with a plan. They would kill their younger brother and throw him into a cistern, a deep hole intended to be used as a reservoir for water, never to be found again. The dreams of dead men cannot come to pass. For added measure, they would tell people (should they ask) that he had been devoured by a ferocious animal. Thus, they smugly concluded, “Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.”

However, Reuben, Israel’s eldest son, wasn’t on board with this plan. Despite his earlier attempt—which we noted a few weeks ago—to gain primacy in the family by sleeping with his father’s concubine,[9] he now sought to save the life of his father’s favorite son. As one commentator notes, it’s impossible to know whether this may have been an attempt to regain his lost status as firstborn or if it was simply an act of mercy on Reuben’s part.[10] Whatever the case, as stated beginning in verse 21, “21 When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. ‘Let’s not take his life,’ he said. 22 ‘Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him.’” Reuben didn’t want Joseph to be murdered. Therefore he made a counter-offer to his brothers. Rather than kill the dreamer, throw him into a cistern, and claim a ferocious animal had devoured him, why not simply throw him into one of the cisterns in the wilderness? This would, in effect, amount to the same thing for Joseph would die of thirst and starvation if he was unable to get out. But at least his blood wouldn’t be directly on their hands. However, as stated at the end of verse 22, Reuben’s actual intent was “to rescue [Joseph] from them and take him back to his father.” Apparently he hoped to steal back to the cistern later so as to rescue Joseph and return him home.

Initially, Reuben’s plan appeared to be acceptable for, as stated in verses 23–24, “23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the ornate robe he was wearing— 24 and they took him and threw him into the cistern. The cistern was empty; there was no water in it.” Though they didn’t kill him, we can only imagine the horror Joseph must have felt. This poor teenager was overpowered by his ten brothers as they ripped from his body the special robe his father had made him and then cast him into a deep, dry well. That the brothers felt satisfaction rather than remorse over their cruel act becomes evident in verse 25 which begins by stating that after throwing Joseph into the cistern, “they sat down to eat their meal.” Can you imagine such heartlessness? Throwing your own sibling into a deep, dry hole and then sitting down to eat??? But as they ate, the brothers came up with another plan whose inspiration is noted. As verse 25 states, “they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt.” The Ishmaelites would have been their distant relatives for Ishmael was their great-grandfather Abraham’s first son by Hagar, his wife’s servant,[11] whereas they were descendants of Isaac, the son promised to both Abraham and Sarah.

At this point Judah took over the reigns as he came up with a new plan that was agreed to by his brothers. One commentator suggests that by this point Reuben may have lost his status as leader after having slept with his father’s concubine.[12] And as we’ve previously noted, Simeon and Levi—the second- and third-born—had similarly forfeited their status after killing Shechem, Hamor, and all the men of their tribe as punishment for Shechem’s having raped their sister, Dinah.[13] Therefore Judah’s status as next-in-line leader may be reflected here. As stated beginning in verse 26, he told his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” It would appear that the other brothers hadn’t given up on the idea of killing Joseph for Judah began by rhetorically asking what they would gain by doing so. What is more, what becomes evident is that Reuben, who had first talked Judah and the others out of killing Joseph, wasn’t present at this time. Judah’s plan was presented to the brothers minus Reuben as they all agreed not to kill Joseph. Yet this hardly comes across as being a noble concession. Given their initial willingness to kill Joseph, one might be forgiven for questioning if the fact that he was their “own flesh and blood” was what motivated them or if their motivation had more to do with the possibility of doing away with this dreamer while making a profit. As Judah stated, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood?” The answer? “Nothing.” But if, on the other hand, they sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites, then at least they would have some financial gain to show for it. As stated in verse 28, “So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.” And perhaps it’s worth mentioning that later on when the LORD gave the law to Moses, selling an Israelite as a slave became an act punishable by death.[14]

As already noted, the beginning of verse 29 is how we learn that Reuben hadn’t been present for any of this for we’re told that “[w]hen Reuben returned to the cistern and saw that Joseph was not there, he tore his clothes.” Not realizing the transaction his brothers had made with the Midianites,[15] when Reuben sneaked back to the cistern to rescue Joseph, he was horrified to discover that Joseph wasn’t there. To tear one’s clothes was an expression of deep grief and remorse. As the eldest brother, the responsibility for Joseph would have fallen upon him. What was he to tell his father?

Now it’s unclear whether or not any of the brothers ever fessed up when Reuben “went back to his brothers,” verse 30, and shared his discovery with them exclaiming, “The boy isn’t there! Where can I turn now?” But I’m inclined to think that to the end Reuben was never told what Judah and his other brothers had done for, years later, when they all unknowingly stood before Joseph in Egypt, his brothers—again, minus Benjamin—said to one another, “Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that’s why this distress has come on us.”[16] Their guilt for this evil deed cast a life-long shadow upon them. But contrast this with Reuben’s response at that time, “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you wouldn’t listen! Now we must give an accounting for his blood.”[17] Whereas the other brothers acknowledged that Joseph had pled for his life, presumably upon being thrown into the cistern and sold off to the Midianites, Reuben appeared to continue to be under the impression that Joseph was dead. This is why he believed they now had to “give an accounting for his blood”—that is, they had to give an accounting for the life they had taken. And how heartbreaking to learn the detail about Joseph having pled for his life. Yet his pleading had fallen on ears that were deaf towards him and hearts that were filled with hatred towards him.

Returning to Genesis 37, we learn what the brothers then did starting in verse 31. They “got Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. 32 They took the ornate robe back to their father and said, ‘We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son’s robe.’” One commentator notes a dark irony in this whole endeavor: “Having deceived his father Isaac with goat skins (27:9)[18] and with Esau’s clothing (27:27),[19] Jacob here is deceived by the goat’s blood on his son’s clothes.”[20] Now whether or not Reuben was let in on what had actually happened to Joseph, he was no doubt in on how best to deal with their father in letting him know that his favorite son was gone. For they covered the ornate robe he had made Joseph with the blood of a slaughtered goat, brought it back to him, claimed to have found it, and not so innocently asked him to examine it to determine whether or not it was the ornate robe he had specially made for Joseph. Again, the cruelty here is breathtaking for they knew, of course, that their father would recognize this special robe as being the very one he had so carefully made for his son. Yet rather than own up to the fact that out of their deep hatred for Joseph they had consequently sold him to Midianite traders, they preferred instead to allow their father to believe that his favorite son had been attacked and killed by a wild animal. As Jacob exclaimed upon examining Joseph’s robe, verse 33, “It is my son’s robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces.” How was this a better plan than simply admitting to their father what they had done???

Following this Jacob, quite naturally, fell into a state of grieving over his favorite son. As verse 34 states, “Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days.” Again, the tearing of clothes was a way of expressing deep grief. Jacob was inconsolable for although, as stated in verse 35, “All his sons and daughters came to comfort him,… he refused to be comforted.” Instead he answered them, “No, I will continue to mourn until I join my son in the grave.” Jacob intended to grieve for his son until his own earthly life was over. Thus did he weep for his beloved son. This was how deep his grief cut.

The chapter closes with a post-script telling what happened to Joseph after being sold to the Midianites. As stated in verse 36, “Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar,[21] one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.” Much of what follows in Genesis will focus upon Joseph’s time in Egypt.

But this particular account of Joseph’s treatment at the hands of his brothers should serve us as a cautionary tale of what can happen when we allow anger and hatred to grow unchecked in our hearts and thoughts. Do you think, perhaps, this is why Jesus warned about the power of our feelings in his Sermon on the Mount? Jesus understood the connection that exists between deeds and thoughts, between acts and feelings. He understood the importance of guarding and checking our impulses for the seeds that we sow, the feelings and thoughts we linger and dwell upon, have a way of expressing themselves in the words that we say and the acts that we do. Therefore Jesus wasn’t satisfied with simply addressing evil deeds but he also addressed the feelings that lie behind them. Again, if we aren’t mindful of our thoughts and feelings, we may be well along the path towards acting on those thoughts even as Joseph’s brothers did.

In the case of murder, Jesus began with addressing the act of murder in Matthew 5:21 as he told the disciples gathered, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’” Jesus was alluding here to the Decalogue, specifically the sixth of the ten commandments recorded in Exodus 20: “You shall not murder.” But to this, as recorded in verse 22 of Matthew 5, he added “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.” Jesus understood not only the letter of the law but also the spirit of the law.[22] He understood how the feeling of anger in our hearts, if left unchecked, could lead to murder with our hands just as Joseph’s brothers had considered doing.[23]

John, who along with Peter and James was part of the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples,[24] learned his master’s teaching well as indicated in the third chapter of his first epistle. First and foremost John exhorted Christ’s church, verse 11, “We should love one another.”[25] As we’ve often noted, Jesus taught that the two greatest commandments given in Scripture are to love the Lord, our God, with all of our hearts, souls, minds, and strength and our neighbor as ourselves.[26] Thus did John also urge these early followers of Jesus.

Next, in verse 12, he turns from love to hate as he hearkens back to evil Cain’s murder of Abel, his righteous brother. He killed his brother “Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous.”[27] Sound familiar? So, too, did Joseph’s brothers desire to kill him because of his righteousness.

John then goes on to exhort in verse 13, “Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.” Why is this? For the same reason that Cain killed Abel and that Joseph’s brothers sought to kill him. All followers of God—all followers of Christ Jesus who is God—are called to be righteous even as Jesus is righteous. Yet that righteousness may be challenged for those who are unrighteous will often hate the righteous because, as we noted last week, righteousness—as demonstrated in right deeds—sheds a light on unrighteousness as demonstrated in evil deeds. Therefore such exposure may well result in others hating us.

Yet there may be another result—and surely this is the goal: our righteous deeds may lead those who are unrighteous to repent from their evil deeds, even as we regularly do, and seek to know God not only as their Creator but also as their Savior and Lord. And the evidence that we have repented is found in the way that we treat one another. As John states in verse 14, “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death.” Because righteousness leads to life, we are called to love others and call out their evil deeds in order that they, too, may be transformed from dying to living, from hating to loving. For those who belong to God in Christ have already died to their former unrighteous and deadly ways and have been clothed with the righteous life-giving covering given us by Jesus Christ.[28] Therefore, John concludes, verse 15, “Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.” Love leads to life. Hatred leads to death. So dear sisters and brothers, let us choose life!

Let us choose life by sowing godly seed; by becoming aware of the feelings in our hearts; by becoming aware of the thoughts we dwell upon and then confessing these to God and one another. And let us ask our kind Lord to help us to be like him by the indwelling Holy Spirit he has so generously bestowed—and let us ask one another for help as well. For as the apostle Paul teaches, “[We should] not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”[29]

So, dear ones, let us today and always not give up;

Let us today and always, as we have opportunity, do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Let us, as Hosea similarly exhorts, sow righteousness for ourselves that we might reap the fruit of unfailing love; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers his righteousness upon us.[30]

Let us pray.

Benediction: Romans 15:5–6: May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

 

[1] Genesis 37:2: Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them.

[2] Genesis 37:6–7:He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”

[3] Genesis 37:9–10:Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” 10 When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?”

[4] Genesis 37:5: Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more.; Genesis 37:8: His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said

[5] The third occurrence, in addition to the two noted in footnote four, is found in Genesis 37:4: When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.

[6] Genesis 37:12–13: 12 Now his brothers had gone to graze their father’s flocks near Shechem, 13 and Israel said to Joseph, “As you know, your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. Come, I am going to send you to them.”

[7] Genesis 37:2: Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them.

[8] According the Zondervan NIV Study Bible note on Genesis 37:19. The Crossway ESV Study Bible note on Genesis 37:18–20 states it may also mean “owner of the dreams.”

[9] Genesis 35:22: While Israel was living in that region, Reuben went in and slept with his father’s concubine Bilhah, and Israel heard of it.

[10] Crossway ESV Study Bible note on Genesis 37:21–22.

[11] Genesis 16:9–11, 15–16:Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.”

11 The angel of the Lord also said to her: “You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael,[Ishmael means “God hears.”] for the Lord has heard of your misery. 15 So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.”

[12] Zondervan NIV Study Bible note on Genesis 37:21.

[13] Genesis 34:25–26: 25 Three days later, while all of them were still in pain, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and attacked the unsuspecting city, killing every male. 26 They put Hamor and his son Shechem to the sword and took Dinah from Shechem’s house and left.” See sermon preached on January 10, 2021, Right Instinct, Wrong Reaction, Christ’s Redemption on Genesis 34.

[14] Deuteronomy 24:7: If someone is caught kidnapping a fellow Israelite and treating or selling them as a slave, the kidnapper must die. You must purge the evil from among you.; See also Exodus 21:16: “Anyone who kidnaps someone is to be put to death, whether the victim has been sold or is still in the kidnapper’s possession.” The Zondervan NIV Study Bible note on Genesis 37:28 also notes that in later times, twenty shekels was “the value of a male of Joseph’s age who had been dedicated to the Lord.” Leviticus 27:5: for a person between the ages of five and twenty, set the value of a male at twenty shekels and of a female at ten shekels.

[15] The Crossway ESV Study Bible note on Genesis 37:25 indicates that Ishmaelites is the broader category that would include the more specific Midianites. Both the Ishmaelites and the Midianites were descendants of Abraham. The Midianites were from a later marriage to Keturah. See Genesis 25:1–4:1 Abraham had taken another wife, whose name was Keturah. She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah. Jokshan was the father of Sheba and Dedan; the descendants of Dedan were the Ashurites, the Letushites and the Leummites. The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanok, Abida and Eldaah. All these were descendants of Keturah.” The Zondervan NIV Study Bible further notes in its commentary on Genesis 37:25 that the Ishamelites were also called Midianites and Medanites, noting Judges 8:22, 24, 26 (22 The Israelites said to Gideon, “Rule over us—you, your son and your grandson—because you have saved us from the hand of Midian….” 24 And he said, “I do have one request, that each of you give me an earring from your share of the plunder.” (It was the custom of the Ishmaelites to wear gold earrings….) 26 The weight of the gold rings he asked for came to seventeen hundred shekels, not counting the ornaments, the pendants and the purple garments worn by the kings of Midian or the chains that were on their camels’ necks.). It also notes, as stated above, that all were sons of Abraham.

[16] Genesis 42:21.

[17] Genesis 42:22. Emphasis added. The discussion occurs when the brothers have come before Joseph who asks that they bring him their youngest brother, i.e., Benjamin.

[18] Genesis 27:5–10:Now Rebekah was listening as Isaac spoke to his son Esau. When Esau left for the open country to hunt game and bring it back, Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Look, I overheard your father say to your brother Esau, ‘Bring me some game and prepare me some tasty food to eat, so that I may give you my blessing in the presence of the Lord before I die.’ Now, my son, listen carefully and do what I tell you: Go out to the flock and bring me two choice young goats, so I can prepare some tasty food for your father, just the way he likes it. 10 Then take it to your father to eat, so that he may give you his blessing before he dies.”

[19] Genesis 27:14–17, 27: 14 So he went and got them and brought them to his mother, and she prepared some tasty food, just the way his father liked it. 15 Then Rebekah took the best clothes of Esau her older son, which she had in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob. 16 She also covered his hands and the smooth part of his neck with the goatskins. 17 Then she handed to her son Jacob the tasty food and the bread she had made…. 27 So he went to him and kissed him. When Isaac caught the smell of his clothes, he blessed him and said, “Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed.

[20] Reformation ESV Study Bible note on Genesis 37:31–33.

[21] The Reformation ESV Study Bible note on Genesis 37:36 notes “This Egyptian name means, ‘he whom [the sun god] Ra has given.’”

[22] As Paul notes in 2 Corinthians 3:6: [God] has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

[23] In the same manner Jesus notes that to lust after a woman is akin to committing adultery in the heart. Matthew 5:27–28: 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Genesis 5:27–28: 27 You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” The reference is to Exodus 20:14: You shall not commit adultery. James links together murder and adultery in James 2:8–11:If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”[Leviticus 19:18] you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,”[Exodus 20:14; Deuteronomy 5:18] also said, “You shall not murder.”[Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17] If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.

[24] The three were present at some key events in Jesus’ life including his Transfiguration (Mark 9:2–4:After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.), his raising Jairus’ daughter from the dead (Luke 8:49–51: 49 While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” he said. “Don’t bother the teacher anymore.” 50 Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.” 51 When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother.), and in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36–38: 36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee [i.e., James and John—see Mark 10:35: Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.] along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”).

[25] 1 John 3:11:  For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.

[26] Matthew 22:34–40:34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Jesus is quoting Deuteronomy 6:5: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” and Leviticus 19:18: “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.”

[27] 1 John 3:12: Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous.

[28] Galatians 3:26–29: 26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.; Colossians 3:5–10: Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.; Ephesians 4:22–24: 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

[29] Galatians 6:7–10.

[30] Hosea 10:2: Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you