Genesis 37:26-34, 50:15-21
Then Judah said to his brothers, ‘What profit is there if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.’ And his brothers agreed. When some Midianite traders passed by, they drew Joseph up, lifting him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt.
When Reuben returned to the pit and saw that Joseph was not in the pit, he tore his clothes. He returned to his brothers, and said, ‘The boy is gone; and I, where can I turn?’ Then they took Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat, and dipped the robe in the blood. They had the long robe with sleeves taken to their father, and they said, ‘This we have found; see now whether it is your son’s robe or not.’ He recognized it, and said, ‘It is my son’s robe! A wild animal has devoured him; Joseph is without doubt torn to pieces.’ Then Jacob tore his garments, and put sackcloth on his loins, and mourned for his son for many days……
Realizing that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers said, ‘What if Joseph still bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong that we did to him?’ So they approached Joseph, saying, ‘Your father gave this instruction before he died, “Say to Joseph: I beg you, forgive the crime of your brothers and the wrong they did in harming you.” Now therefore please forgive the crime of the servants of the God of your father.’ Joseph wept when they spoke to him. Then his brothers also wept, fell down before him, and said, ‘We are here as your slaves.’ But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today. So have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones.’ In this way he reassured them, speaking kindly to them.
Violence, deception, grudges, lying, fear, ugh. So much brokenness in this story. So much brokenness in our lives. Joseph has choices in how he responded to his brothers. He responded in love, in compassion, and in mercy. Joseph shows us what reconciliation looks like, especially when it seems like the toughest option. I suspect that Joseph, through the grace of God, was able to forgive his brothers because he was paying attention to how God was at work in his own life. He had prayed, wrestled, waited, and listened for God in the pit and in the halls of power. He knew God’s love and because of that love could only respond to his brothers with love, too. May we, too, have Joseph’s compassion when we are hurt, and may we strive to reflect God’s love in all our relationships. Amen.
In Peace, Pastor Ruth
God of dreams and hope, You spoke to Joseph in his dreams, and those dreams led him to great danger. Yet you used the challenges in his life to save the lives of others. In you, no good thing is accidental. You work in us and through us, even when we are not aware of your presence. Help us to know that you are with us, and that only you are capable of turning all evil to good. Amen.