The party was over. The brothers were sent off with beloved Benjamin. The trip had been a success – or so they thought.
Until they were chased down by Joseph’s steward, with all kinds of accusations. Stunned, the brothers defended themselves, until the cup is found in Benjamin’s bag. Although Benjamin was the accused, they were not going back to Jacob without him.
Judah steps forward. Yes, this is the Judah who wrongly accused Tamar and was humbled by her sense of justice. That experience matured him and gave him the boldness to refuse to return without Benjamin, even when Joseph makes the offer. He even offered himself to take Benjamin’s place rather than see his father hurt once again.
But it was when the brothers talked about the beloved son of their father who had been killed, that Joseph could no longer hold his emotions.
I wonder what the brothers thought when Joseph cried, “Make everyone go out from me” and then started weeping so loudly, the Egyptians outside of the room could hear. Then he started talking without a translator that he was Joseph and asking if his father was alive. No wonder they were filled with shock and unbelief!
Reality hit when Joseph asked his brothers to, “Come near to me, please.” He told them his story, how “God sent me before you to preserve life.” He said, “So it was not you who sent me here, but God.”
There was no recounting of their past sins. They were forgiven. In fact, what God had turned into good, it was if it never happened.
Joseph gave instructions for the family to be brought back to Egypt. Pharaoh even got in on the bandwagon, giving them possessions and land. Jacob was stunned when he heard Joseph was alive.
It’s not quite the end of the story, but let’s not blow past the forgiveness. We’ve been working up to it for several chapters, and it is key to understanding.
The brothers did something that was wrong, horribly wrong. They lived with the guilt of it for years, making up lies to cover their tracks. Joseph felt the impact of their sin the most, paying the price with his suffering. But God had a plan of redemption that sin and suffering could not defeat.
We do things that are wrong, sometimes horribly wrong. We live with the guilt of it, lying to ourselves rather than confessing. As a result, others who are innocent suffer.
And God suffers, knowing our sin, knowing how we are separated from him. So he put a plan of redemption into place so that we wouldn’t starve ourselves, so that he could redeem us. That plan was for the only one who was righteous to suffer and die in our place, Jesus Christ. Through him, we are redeemed.
And our sin? It becomes as if it never happened.