When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died: ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.”’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
Perhaps you know the story of Joseph from the book of Genesis.
Andrew Lloyd Weber and Time Rice collaborated to tell the story in a musical entitled “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”.
The play emphasizes the theme of “following your dreams”.
The story in Genesis emphasizes the theme of “God bringing good out of evil”.
In Genesis, Joseph has dreams in which he tells his older brothers they will one day bow down and serve him. Joseph’s brothers don’t like that. They discuss killing him but are persuaded to “merely” sell him into slavery.
Joseph ends up serving as a slave for an Egyptian named Potiphar. Potiphar gives Joseph great responsibility. Unfortunately, Potiphar’s wife wants to have an affair with Joseph. When Joseph refuses, Potiphar’s wife accuses Joseph of trying to attack her. Joseph ends up in jail.
While in jail, Joseph becomes known for being able to interpret dreams. One of the prisoners is released to serve the Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt.
When the former prisoner hears about dreams the Pharaoh is having, he tells the Pharaoh about Joseph and his ability to interpret dreams.
The Pharaoh summons Joseph to interpret the dreams. Joseph tells of seven years of bumper crops followed by seven years of famine. Joseph tells the Pharaoh that he should save some of the bumper crops for the years of drought. Pharaoh puts Joseph in charge of the crops, effectively making Joseph second only to Pharaoh.
End of story, right?
As God would have it, Joseph’s brothers show up one day hoping to buy some of the crops. They go to Joseph but do not recognize him. One thing turns into another and Joseph reveals himself to his brothers
As a man with great power, he could exact some of the most satisfying revenge.
He does not.
Instead, he forgives them, provides for their needs and speaks these words, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.”
And so it is with Jesus, the Christ. He was placed on the cross. Revenge would seem in order. Instead, he spoke these words, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Are we forgiving?
Peace Lutheran Church
Mill Valley, California