Summary: THis sermon deals with Joseph’s willingness to rise up and forgive those who caused him pain and sorrow in life.
Joseph, He Got Up
How many of you have asked that question, “Lord how many times should I forgive? How many times should I put up with this? How many times is enough” One person that dealt with this question was Joseph in our Scripture reading today. Joseph was in a family with 11 brothers from four different women, but all the same father. So there was a lot of family tension, because Joseph’s mom had been his father’s favorite and everyone knew it. Joseph became the favorite of his father and his brothers resented him for it.
Not only that, God chose Joseph for a certain task in life and gave him some dreams about what was going to happen in the future. Joseph had two dreams, but it was obvious that in both dreams that his brothers would kneel down before him as if he was ruling over them. Now with Joseph being the second youngest of all the family, this was extremely unlikely to happen. Now if you combine Joseph’s ego that he was going to be somebody special, with his father’s favoritism you can see why his brothers were not very fond of him.
Then to make matters worse, the brothers were out doing something they were not supposed to be doing, and they all made an agreement not to tell what they had done. Everybody went along with this plot except Joseph. He told his father what his brothers had done, and they got in trouble for it. This made them more furious with Joseph.
Joseph is about 17 when his father sent him looking for his brothers, because his father thought something might have happened to his brothers. Joseph is willing to go look for them, not knowing if he was risking his life to the same trouble which may have befallen his brothers. When Joseph does get close to his brothers, they recognize him coming at a distance, because he was wearing that special designer coat of many colors that his father had made for him.
Just seeing that coat made them angry and jealous and upset. One of them said, “here comes that dreamer, let’s kill him and throw him into one of the pits and lie, and say a ferocious animal tore him to pieces. Then we will see what comes of his dreams.” One of his brothers Rueben, the oldest, said “let’s not kill him, but just throw him into the pit and let him die there”
Joseph finally reached his brothers, after this long journey and said, “boy I sure am glad I found you guys. I was getting so worried. I got lost myself.” The next thing he knew, his brothers had stripped him of his designer coat, and threw him down into this well. He hit the bottom with a thud and was trying to figure out what was going on.”
He started begging with them to please help him out. They were all laughing at his pleas and his pain. He’s in the pit starting to cry, he started to feel where his body was hurting from landing so hard in that well. He probably called them by name to help him. He’s saying, “I think I’m hurt, why won’t you help me.”
Joseph is down in the pit in pain. They are sitting up top eating a meal having a good time. Then the brothers spot some slave traders passing by on the road to Egypt. Judah, one of the brothers say, “Hey why should we kill him and get nothing for it. After all he is our brother, let’s sell him as a slave and get some money for it.”
They begin to help Joseph out of the pit. Joseph thinks this cruel joke they have played on him is over, little does he know just how bad things are about to get. His brothers dust him off, not to help him but to get a better deal from the slave traders. When he realizes that he’s being sold as a slave, he begs and pleads for his life, but all his efforts fall on deaf ears. His hands are tied. He’s led away like an animal, having to walk many, many miles to Egypt.
Now think about this. He had risked his life to go and find his brothers. Now he’s being beaten by people whose language he does not understand. His feet are blistering in the hot desert sand. The life of comfort he once knew is gone. His chances of seeing his father and his little brother, the two people in the world he really loved are gone.
His own brothers had sold him to slavery. Where was he to start in trying to forgive his brothers? Should he even want to forgive his brothers? Each day he was suffering a new pain, a new lash from a whip and an extreme loneliness because of his brothers actions.