The day of reckoning has arrived. Joseph comes face-to-face with the brothers who had betrayed him. When they met for the first time in years, his brothers did not recognize Joseph; but he knew who they were. His brothers do not know that Joseph not only survived the ordeal but has risen to a place of power and privilege in Egyptian society. Now that Joseph is a powerful governor, his brothers fear the power of his office. Their survival lies in Joseph’s hands.
In today’s text, the brothers meet Joseph, and he identifies himself as the vulnerable innocent they had sold into slavery. Now the tables are turned, and the brothers find themselves in a place of precarious vulnerability. They fear Joseph will act in a manner similar to the way they had treated him.
Joseph has a choice to make. He can act out of his hurt to even the score or reach out in a gesture of reconciliation. We sometimes try to assuage our wounds through acts of revenge, but it seldom brings lasting relief. Though revenge may bring short-lived satisfaction, it’s often followed by regret, pain, and loss of dignity.
Joseph chooses a way forward other than revenge. He is God’s man; God has worked throughout his life to bring good out of evil: “God sent me before you to preserve life.” His tears signal a cathartic healing. He lets go of past hurts. Without this healing, he may have exacted revenge. His familial bonds of love are stronger than his desire to get even. Joseph takes the higher road and assures his brothers of a life of abundance despite five more years of famine. The brothers’ inability to speak turns to weeping among the brothers with many hugs exchanged. This is the path to abundant life: forgiving those who have harmed us, loving those who have done us wrong.
Remember a time when you were tempted to exact revenge. Offer the situation to God for healing. Ask God for courage to be a bearer of Christ’s forgiving and reconciling love.
Genesis 45 portrays Joseph in a moment of triumph. The trials of the past are over, and his trembling brothers are now in his power. Joseph acknowledges God’s hand in the events of his life and is reconciled to those who attempted to do him harm. Psalm 133 is a brief but exuberant song to the spirit of unity and fellowship that can exist among the members of the family of God. Paul delivers a resounding “no” to the idea that God has rejected Israel. God’s election is irrevocable. The story of Jesus and the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15 illustrates the wide umbrella of God’s mercy. The woman’s faith and persistence serve in a curious way to minister to Jesus. As she becomes a means of God’s grace to Jesus, he extends God’s mercy to her.
• Read Genesis 45:1-15. What relationship in your life needs reconciliation? How will you help bring it about?
• Read Psalm 133. How healthy is your church family? Is there need for greater unity among the members?
• Read Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32. What wounds in your life have brought you a greater understanding of God’s mercy?
• Read Matthew 15:10-28. The writer says, “The work of Christians is to love others, not to change them.” Is this difficult for you?
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