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Feasting at the Table of Grace


Sermon shared by Jonathan Twitchell

August 2002
Summary: Joseph demonstrated great grace when he invited his brothers to eat with him--the same grace Jesus offered the Canaanite woman, and the same grace He offers you.
Denomination: Nazarene
Audience: General adults
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me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 5 And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. 6 For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. 7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.

8 “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. 9 Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay. 10 You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me--you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. 11 I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.’

12 “You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that it is really I who am speaking to you. 13 Tell my father about all the honor accorded me in Egypt and about everything you have seen. And bring my father down here quickly.”

14 Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. 15 And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him.

What a beautiful display of mercy and grace in the life of Joseph. Arguably, Joseph was the most powerful person on the face of the earth at that given time. Egypt was a powerful nation, and Pharaoh had given Joseph command of everything. In Genesis 41:40 Pharaoh is recorded to have said to Joseph: “You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.“ The only way in which Joseph was second to Pharaoh is that Pharaoh sat on the throne, and Joseph didn’t. And so, here we have the most powerful person on earth with ten unsuspecting brothers in his council chambers. Ten unsuspecting brothers who had hated him so badly that they had almost killed him, but decided it would have been better to make a little money by selling him to slave traders instead. Joseph could have carried forth all of the wrath and powers available to Pharaoh himself, and nobody would have been the wiser. Nobody would have questioned him, his father Jacob would never have known, and Joseph could have justified his actions by saying that he was carrying out justice on those who had done wrong.

And yet, in a beautiful display of mercy and grace, Joseph shows us a glimpse of God’s Divine attributes, as he displays the Image of God to a watching world. As we look at Joseph, we become aware of God’s attributes of mercy and grace. Mercy and grace, which we see evident in our Gospel lesson from Matthew 15.

Jesus is approached by a Gentile woman who cries out to Him, identifies Him as the Messiah, and asks Him to have mercy on her and her daughter. Initially, Jesus seems to ignore the woman not saying a word to her. His disciples quickly tire of her cries, and begged Jesus to send her away so that she wouldn’t bother them anymore. Jesus responds to the woman, indicating
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