15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” 16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17 ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept. 18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. 19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
This is one of my favourite passages in the Bible. Joseph now has many years between him and the betrayal he experienced at the hands of his brothers. Their evil actions set off a chain reaction of hardships for Joseph and I have no doubt that he still carried scars, physically, emotionally and mentally, as evidenced by his weeping as they plead for forgiveness and mercy.
In this moment, Joseph’s tears are brought on not only by the overwhelming journey he has been on, but God’s amazing faithfulness through it all, and an even larger sense for Joseph that ‘it was never about him anyway’. In this precious moment, Joseph is acutely aware that God has somehow taken all the evil intent and Joseph’s arduous journey and purposed it to result in the saving of many lives, including that of his own family, the ancestors of the people of Israel and Jesus’ own earthly line.
Joseph has no axe to grind, he has no scales to bring back to balance, he has no unfinished business with his brothers. He knows now it was not about him anyway. Joseph is delighted to find himself being used by God to do something very good and his desire is to continue to serve that purpose.
Lord, only through the journey can I learn about all you are doing in and through me. Teach me to continue to walk the journey with you as my constant companion and boss. Renew my mind so that I know that it is not about me.
Written by Andrew Mellor