Today’s readings are from Genesis 50, Luke 3, Job 16-17, 1 Corinthians 4.
Joseph had many reasons to be angry. He had been sold into slavery, thrown in prison for doing what was right, forgotten, confronted with his past every time his brothers showed up. He had many reasons for tears as well, when he was down in the pit, when he saw Benjamin, and later his father. And now Jacob has died.
But what might have made Joseph most sad was what his brothers say here in Genesis 50. Afraid that Joseph will now take revenge on them for all they had done to him and the trouble they had caused him, and said…
15b “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” 16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17 ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.”
And Joseph wept, again. I think it is because Joseph had forgiven them, years ago. Maybe while in prison, maybe when they showed up in Egypt the first or second time, certainly by the time they all moved to Egypt. Yet they couldn’t believe it. There was still a wall built between them because they couldn’t believe they were forgiven.
18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. 19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
This is one of the more poignant passages in all of Scripture. Joseph did not intend them to be his slaves. He recognized what God had intended all along–that this was a good thing God had been doing. He promised to do kindness and he spoke kindly to them.
Does God weep, like Joseph, when we hold on to guilt and shame and refuse to believe that we are forgiven? Does he weep when we fear Him and His reprisal? He paid the price so that we could be fully forgiven and come boldly to His throne of grace.
Picture Jesus pulling you up to your feet and pointing to His sacrifice for your sins. He doesn’t judge you any longer and doesn’t want you to be afraid. He will care for you.
Luke 3 records the ministry of the forerunner of the Messiah, John the Baptist (3:1-20) and the preparatory baptism of Jesus (3:21-22). The chapter concludes citing the genealogy of Jesus back to Adam (3:23-38).
John came calling the people to repentance, to make an about face, turning from their sins. John looked strange and had a provocative method. Repentance was individualized, proven in that people share, that they be fair with each other, and that they not be mean and cruel; that they be happy with what they get.
John was bold, confronting Herod’s immorality, causing him to be put in prison and later loosing his head. John didn’t let potential dangers prohibit him from preaching the truth.
In the baptism of Jesus we see the Trinity. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are equally God but individually persons (3:21b-22).
Job 16-17 is Job’s response to Eliphaz. He is showing increasing disinterest in what they are saying, moving quickly to distress in how God was treating him (16:6-17) and his desire to have a representative in heaven (16:18-17:2). This is not a direct reference to, but a prefiguring of the reality that we under the new covenant do have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one (1 John 2:3).
Job’s friends having not “been there” for Job in the sense he wanted (bond provider), again expresses his despair in the face of death (17:6-16). Even though Job rues the day he was born (chap 3) and here believes the grace is the “only home I hope for” (v. 13), he never contemplates suicide.
1 Corinthians 4 first deals with the true nature of Paul’s apostleship (4:1-13). He saw himself as a “servant of God (Christ)” even though he had God-given authority and would be judged by God, not man.
Unfortunately, the viewpoint of the Corinthians was more like natural, unsaved people. They wanted to be honored, but the apostles were dishonored in the world.
Paul was not trying to humiliate them, but bring them along as their spiritual father (4:14-15). He encouraged them to imitate him (4:16). How many of us could encourage others to imitate us?