Retribution or Reconciliation?

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S (Scripture): Genesis 50:15 When Joseph’s brothers realized that their father was now dead, they said, “What if Joseph bears a grudge against us, and wants to pay us back seriously for all of the terrible things we did to him?” 16 So they approached Joseph and said, “Your father gave orders before he died, telling us, 17 ‘This is what you should say to Joseph. “Please, forgive your brothers’ sins and misdeeds, for they did terrible things to you. Now, please forgive the sins of the servants of your father’s God.”’” Joseph wept when they spoke to him.

18 His brothers wept too, fell down in front of him, and said, “We’re here as your slaves.”

19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I God? 20 You planned something bad for me, but God produced something good from it, in order to save the lives of many people, just as he’s doing today. 21 Now, don’t be afraid. I will take care of you and your children.” So he put them at ease and spoke reassuringly to them.

O (Observation): Hmm? If I’m not mistaken Joseph’s dad said nothing about Joseph need by to forgive his brothers. Could this be another case of Joseph’s brothers trying to cover their own backsides? I think so.

The most interesting part is the result: Joseph forgives them in an emotional display.

Is this justice? Not hardly…not an earthly justice. But as Jospeh says, he is not God…and indeed, God has turned to good something meant to harm. Joseph – left for dead by his brothers – was taken to Egypt and rose to power there and saved his father and brothers (and many of God’s people) by storing up food, based on God’s revelation to Joseph.

And so…in a position to strike back at his brothers and in their attempt to deceive Joseph (yet again), Joseph leads with grace. And grace sets people free…it sets Joseph free…it sets free Joseph’s brothers and their families…it breaks the cycle of violence.

A (Application): Loving our neighbor. Will this help us to break the cycles of violence and deception all around us? We are a violent and cynical people, quicker to react than to think.

Joseph had justification for denying forgiveness and mercy to his brothers. In fact, you may have had a negative reaction towards Joseph…like he was weak or soft. Well…depends on the perspective. What is the end game? Retribution? And end to violence?Reconciliation?

I’ll take reconciliation any time…apology, forgiveness, moving forward together. We catch a glimpse of this in Joseph’s story.

How has this worked itself out in your life? Did you need to apologize? Did you need to forgive? If both have applied to you, have you moved forward together?

P (Prayer): Forgiving Lord, you call us to be reconciled to one another, just as we have been reconciled to you. Aid us in this effort. Amen.


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