A Lenten Journey: Cllimbing to the Cross – Day TWENTY-FIVE

Genesis 50:15-26, Common English Bible 
When Joseph’s brothers realized that their father was now dead, they said, “What if Joseph bears a grudge against us, and wants to pay us back seriously for all of the terrible things we did to him?” So they approached Joseph and said, “Your father gave orders before he died, telling us, ‘This is what you should say to Joseph. “Please, forgive your brothers’ sins and misdeeds, for they did terrible things to you. Now, please forgive the sins of the servants of your father’s God.” ’ ” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 
His brothers wept too, fell down in front of him, and said, “We’re here as your slaves.” 
But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I God? You planned something bad for me, but God produced something good from it, in order to save the lives of many people, just as he’s doing today. Now, don’t be afraid. I will take care of you and your children.” So he put them at ease and spoke reassuringly to them. 
Thus Joseph lived in Egypt, he and his father’s household. Joseph lived 110 years and saw Ephraim’s grandchildren. The children of Machir, Manasseh’s son, were also born on Joseph’s knees. Joseph said to his brothers, “I’m about to die. God will certainly take care of you and bring you out of this land to the land he promised to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” Joseph made Israel’s sons promise, “When God takes care of you, you must bring up my bones out of here.” Joseph died when he was 110 years old. They embalmed him and placed him in a coffin in Egypt.
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The Joseph saga comes to an end with these verses. 
And they’re quite a mixed bag of verses, seems to me.
Once again, they are filled with the criss-crossing emotions and experiences of family life, marked by both tenderness and frustration.
Bounded by deaths – Jacob’s recent one at the beginning and Joseph’s projected one at the end – these 12 verses hold a lot of our story in them.

     We don’t quite trust the goodness of forgiveness a lot of the time.

     We sometimes weep tears of despair over the failure of those closest to us to understand who we truly are.

     We know – despite the many ways we try to deny this truth – that we are all in the process of dying.

     We want our bones to land in the right place, too, don’t you think? Someone to care enough about us to carry us home, wherever that is.
But here’s where I most want to find similarity, to see myself in this passage. In these words of Joseph to his tear-splotched brothers:  
     “Don’t be afraid. 
          Am I God?”
Because I want to know – 
     I want to know – way down deep in both head and heart – 
     that I am not God, 
     that my recurring desire to act like I am 
          is a twisting of the truth that bears only bitter fruit, 
               that judgment of others, or even of myself, is not up to me.

Some people say that Joseph is a kind of pre-Jesus Jesus figure. And I can see that in parts of this long story. Maybe nowhere more so than here, with these words:
     
“You planned something bad for me, but God produced something good from it, in order to save the lives of many people…”

What happened to Jesus was bad – very bad, ugly, painful, humiliating. But from it came the greatest good the world has ever experienced – the lives of many people – SAVED – to live as forgiven, healed, whole persons…forever.

And that just cries out for yet another alleluia, don’t you think?

_______
You are the God of lost causes – and lost people. Thank you for this story of Joseph, for the real-life issues it deals with and for the beautiful way in which you worked through the rotten intentions of a band of brothers to bring salvation to many. It wasn’t exactly a cake-walk for Joseph – at least for a while. But he was able to say, “It’s all GOOD,” at the end of the day. Help me to say that, too, Lord. Especially when I look at some of the hard stuff in my own story. Help me to trust you – to trust that you are already working good even in the middle of the muddle. Thank you.




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