Old Testament Reading: Genesis 45:3-11, 15
Responsive Reading: Psalm 37
New Testament Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:35-38,42-50
The Gospel: Luke 6:27-38
Today’s reading in Genesis 45 picks up after Joseph has finally revealed his identity to his brothers, who had come to Egypt looking for food.
Many years before this, Joseph’s brothers had grown weary of his pride and rather arrogant behavior. They had gotten tired of the favoritism shown to him by their father Jacob – and probably felt hurt. Except for Benjamin, the youngest, none of the other brothers had been born to Jacob’s beloved wife Rachel, which likely added to their pain of feeling left out or ignored.
Even Joseph’s famous multi-colored coat showed favoritism that must have been like a red flag to the brothers every time they saw him coming. Some translations, however, refer to that coat as “long-sleeved,” rather than multi-colored, which is entirely possible since Hebrew words to this day leave out vowels, thereby allowing for a variety of word choices when translating into English. If that’s the case, those long sleeves would have been yet another source of irritation as this implied royalty or, at the very least, a man who was not the hard-working laborer they were expected to be.
Added to these hard feelings was the assumption that Joseph came to spy on them and report back to their father. In other words, Joseph’s brothers had every reason to believe he was a “tattle-tale.” And so, what did they do? They threw him into a pit!
Eventually, travelers picked him up, carried him off, and sold him into slavery. Through this and other trials, the prideful young man undoubtedly learned humility.
To Joseph’s credit, he didn’t sit around wallowing in his misery. Wherever he was, he helped other people. And so, he rose from imprisonment to servitude in the house of Potiphar, but after Potiphar’s wife hurled false accusations against him, Joseph landed in prison again!
More years passed until word got around that he could interpret dreams. Through God’s grace and guidance, Joseph was able to let Pharaoh know to prepare for a severe famine, and wisely, the ruler of Egypt put Joseph in charge of that project of storing then distributing food.
Now, one way to look at this is that Joseph was in the right place at the right time. Some might call that coincidence, but believers in the Lord will call that God-incidence, which, in essence, is what Joseph did. After years of suffering, hardship, and rising again, Joseph realized that God had prepared him for such a time as this.
Just by recognizing and acknowledging God’s hand on him, Joseph had no cause to be prideful about his own gifts but to give credit to God for every good thing the Lord had brought from bad circumstances.
Joseph knew without a doubt that the Almighty God was with him. The strength of that faith surely got him through the worse times, and, as he matured spiritually, he could see God’s orchestration over his life. Joseph had every reason to believe, as we do, that Father God was and is alive and well and working for our well-being.
But what about his earthly father – the man who had doted over him and adored him to the expense of all others? As soon as Joseph had revealed himself to his brothers, the first thing he did was ask, “Is my father still alive?”
Do you notice anything odd about that question? Joseph is talking to his brothers, and yet he doesn’t ask, “Is OUR father still alive?” but “MY” father.
His father was alive, of course, and the two were reunited for the rest of Jacob’s life. Although they had been through extreme hardship, God brought them together again.
Do you believe it? Do we believe God is still alive and well and working for our well-being?
If so, we, too, can hope for God to find a way to bring good out of the very worse circumstances we face. But what do we do in the meantime? How do we cope?
Psalm 37, which we read, in part, today provides biblical answers:
- Trust in the Lord. Do Good.
- TAKE delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.
- Commit your way to the Lord. Trust Him, and He will act.
- Be still before the Lord. Wait for Him.
- Refrain from anger. Let go of whatever makes you mad.
In the Beatitudes we read last week, Jesus quoted Psalm 37:11, which says, “The meek shall inherit the earth.” The humble, strong-in-faith, non-arrogant people are assured of an inheritance from OUR Father – God.
By recognizing, more and more, that God is OUR Father – rather than just mine or yours or theirs – we’re getting ready for the biggest task our Father gives us: Love.
Today’s New Testament reading from the epistles reminds us that we look like Adam and Eve – our first parents, born of the earth and dust. But, through the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, we now bear the image of God’s Son – born not of dust but of Holy Spirit – born of ongoing love and life.
Our dependence on Christ opens up countless opportunities for us when we no longer rely on ourselves, but on the Lord Jesus Who gave everything for us that we might live – forever, of course. But also right now!
Right now, we live in Christ as though He is alive in us. God our Father is still alive. And so is God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.
As soon as we realize we cannot orchestrate our own lives much less anyone else’s, we might not be so angry with others or so mad at ourselves. Think about it. If Joseph had sat in a damp, musty prison stewing for years, do you think he would have risen to the second highest position in all of Egypt? Would years of wallowing in self-pity or fear or anger or self-loathing have given him the same chance to help others and keep his father and siblings from dying of hunger?
Is his Father God still alive? Is ours?
Trusting God our Father and taking delight in Him enables us to enjoy His presence as we wait for Him to guide, inspire, and empower us to act.
Act how? With love.
In today’s Gospel reading from Luke 6, Jesus tells us: “Listen! Listen to Me! Love your enemies. Treat haters with kindness, with goodness. Bless anyone and everyone who curses you. Pray for anyone and everyone who treats you badly.”
Say, what? Say: Yes!
Can we give anyone and everyone the kindness, courtesy, exhortation, and even the chastisement needed? Can we give them the benefit of the doubt and the forgiveness we want other people to give us? And, to avoid grudges or resentments, can we do this without expecting anything at all in return?
God Himself gives us what we need to pour onto others the love and mercy He pours onto us. He blesses us through the majesty of creation, the sacrifice of His Son, the communion we have with one another, and the Bible. God generously gives us His love, forgiveness, and the ongoing gift of the Holy Spirit.
Our Father God is still alive!
As we believe and receive Him, our Father God is alive in us! Let’s talk to Him now:
Our Father in heaven and on earth, may Your love permeate our lives. Help us to trust You, delight in You, and wait for Your word to guide and empower us. Help us, Lord, to love as You love in Jesus’ Name.
Mary Sayler, ©2019
Readings from The Revised Common Lectionary used by many church denominations