We are looking at the family reunion of Joseph and the brothers who had sold him into slavery. Once they had held his life in their hands, now he holds their lives in his hands. Joseph recognises his brothers, but in his Egyptian finery, and using an interpreter to communicate with them, his brothers don’t recognise him. Given the last time they had seen him he was hauled away as a slave, they can be forgiven for not realising the governor of Egypt and Joseph are one and the same person.
Will they pick up where they had left off with animosity and hatred or have things changed in their hearts? Joseph puts his brothers off balance by accusing them of being enemy spies. This is an emotional time for Joseph who struggles to hold back the tears. He takes the opportunity to test the honesty of his brothers before revealing his true identity. The brothers have changed. Now they consider their father’s feelings, they show remorse, they take responsibility and try to protect their younger brother Benjamin. Later, when Joseph reveals his identity to them, they are worried he might seek revenge, but he puts them at ease. This is a wonderful story of reconciliation, of forgiveness and relationships restored.
The bible reminds us all families matter.
The Old Testament tells us it is precious when brothers live in unity, like a fragrant oil of blessing (Psalm 133). In the New Testament Jesus said our unity was so important that if we remember something has come between us and a brothe,r we should put that right before going to worship God (Matthew 5:24). He also said his disciples would be known by their love for each other (John 13.35). Jesus clearly wanted his spiritual family to enjoy good, loving relationships with each other.
Someone has said Christians are lumpy-bumpy people.
There is a Christian imperative of working out and working through our problems with each other, working towards unity, forgiving each other, being reconciled and living in love. We need to be reconcilable people, so we can maintain fellowship with each other, apologising when that is needed, learning from our mistakes and making a real effort to maintain unity. If Joseph and his brothers can be reconciled, there is hope for us. Perhaps, if like Joseph you have been the victim, you may need to find healing, a way of letting go and dealing with past hurts. If like the brothers you have hurt someone, you may need to humble yourself, seek forgiveness and do your part to bring healing to the relationship.
Questions to consider:
How long do you hold on to a grudge, and are you holding one now?
By your speech and actions are you fostering unity or undermining it?
Is there a family member, friend or person at church you need to be reconciled with, and what steps might you take to bring healing to your relationship?
Rev John Malcolm