Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

Genesis 50:15-21

April 5 – Genesis 50:15-21

Our text today takes place at the end of a major section in Genesis that starts way back in chapter 37. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers because they were jealous of him (after first planning to kill him). He is brought to Egypt and, through a series of events, rises to a position of prominence.

Over two decades later, a famine drives Joseph’s brothers to Egypt, the only place with food. Eventually they are reunited with Joseph and the whole family moves to Egypt. Now, seventeen years later, Joseph’s father Jacob has died. Even though decades have passed since the original trespass, the brothers are worried that now that their father is dead, Joseph will take vengeance on them for selling him into slavery. They send Joseph a message asking for forgiveness.

Honestly, no one would probably blame Joseph for holding a grudge. They did sell him into slavery, and he suffered several hardships because of their actions. Our sinful flesh wants justice, not mercy. But mercy is exactly what Joseph gives.

“Do not fear, for am I in the place of God?” Joseph knows that it is not his responsibility to repay the evil done against him. He continues by saying the same thing he told them back in chapter 45 when they first reunited: this was God’s doing so that many lives would be preserved. What you meant for evil, God meant for good. Joseph does not hold his brothers’ sin against them, but instead promises to provide for their families.

This is one of the actions that make Joseph a Christ-like figure. He is someone who foreshadows the salvation that God will ultimately bring about in Jesus. Just as Joseph shows mercy to and provides for his brothers, who sinned against him, so too are we poor sinners shown mercy and kindness because of what Jesus accomplished on the cross.
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