Proper 19: Old Testament, Genesis 50:15-21
Over the past several years I have begun to run into Joseph a bit more often than before. Now, not Joseph, the guardian of Jesus and His mom. No, I am thinking now of Joseph, the prime minister of Egypt. The colored-coat wearer. The pit-dweller. That Joseph. And I guess I am bumping into him more often because I am spending more time in the Old Testament and in the book of Genesis in particular. If you haven’t recently, may I take this opportunity to encourage you to open Genesis and over days perhaps, read or reread it front to back. Five chapters a day will take a week plus a few days. Well worth it. For many reasons. Ask the Author to guide your reading and pondering, too.
Joseph is a full-on picture of Jesus. Not point for point, but in the bigger issues. Favored by a Father. Despised by his own people (brothers). Put to death in a figure and raised and exalted after that. Honored. Bowed to. Feared and loved. Pretty complete picture. But one other element of a Savior-shaped life comes to the surface: Forgiveness.
In our Old Testament text we have Joseph’s brothers cowering in fear for a judgment and punishment that never materializes. They even make up a story to put a plea for forgiveness on the lips of their recently deceased father, Jacob. Joseph had already forgiven his wayward brothers. How do we know? Because he had received them. They were in his presence and honored they were as well. Joseph, for the love of his dear father, loved the sons born of him. Sounds a bit like John in his first epistle. (cf. 1 John 5:1) And the love was complete and completed in the act of forgiveness. You really get the sense in reading our text that Joseph was poised, ready and loved granting forgiveness to his brothers. This is where you really see Jesus in Joseph. Joseph knew and loved God’s promises. He had been on the receiving end many times. He had grown to know a God who loved forgiveness. Like the Savior, he just couldn’t wait to share it.