I’ve always loved this portion of Joseph’s life. Often the focus is on Joseph’s amazing ability to forgive his brothers. What they intended for evil, God intended for good. This time around, I was struck by the fact that his brothers carried the weight of their sin during the years Joseph was in Egypt. When Joseph accused them of being spies, then tested how they would treat Benjamin. The brothers thought their misfortune was because of what they did to Joseph years before. Even years after Joseph had forgiven them and settled them in the best land of Egypt, they were fearful after their father died that Joseph would harm them. It was as if they believed their actions were unforgivable and they were just waiting for their punishment. They couldn’t seem to accept the forgiveness offered by Joseph, despite the fact that he demonstrated it through word and deed.
We all sin, we live with the consequences, guilt and regret of our own actions. If we don’t turn it over to God we carry the weight of our actions for years; like Joseph’s brothers not accepting forgiveness, waiting for punishment. On this side of the cross, through Jesus’ word and deed, we are offered the ultimate forgiveness. I love the fact that we have a Lord who loves us, is compassionate and gracious, he is slow to anger, abounding in love, he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us, Psalm 103:8-12. Through Him we can live freely in forgiveness of our sin, which will in turn allow us to forgive others and ourselves when we fall short.