When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the steward of his house, “Bring the men into the house, and slaughter an animal and make ready, for the men are to dine with me at noon.” The man did as Joseph told him and brought the men to Joseph’s house. And the men were afraid because they were brought to Joseph’s house, and they said, “It is because of the money, which was replaced in our sacks the first time, that we are brought in, so that he may assault us and fall upon us to make us servants. Genesis 43:16-18
The brother’s history of sin against Joseph makes them skittish. Rightly so. How many would forgive being sold into slavery by a family member? (And it’s happening today all over the world.) Though it has been nearly two decades, it feels like yesterday to them. Though they didn’t yet know Joseph’s identity, their guilty conscience causes them to look for God’s judgment wherever they face hardship. They assume that this ruler in Egypt will be the instrument of God’s discipline. While they prepare for hardship, Joseph prepares a feast. Mercy is not rational.
When I consider my past sins, I can turn away from God in fear. I cannot conceive (though I know a lot about the cross) that God will have the face of mercy instead of judgment. He will bring me close when I feel I should be alienated. He will forgive me when I feel I should be punished. He will make me His friend when I have acted like His enemy. He will open His arms wide when I’m convinced I’ll be kept at a distance.
Joseph is a type of Jesus. He shows us what unthinkable mercy looks like. My part is to dare to believe such good news.
Mercy is free but it’s on the other side of true remorse. Show me the difference between remorse and living my life with a guilty conscience. Amen