Summary: The Forgiveness and compassion of Christ
Unfathomable Forgiveness, Irrevocable Invitation,
This morning again I want to tie in all three readings with
the lesson to see how each one portrays a characteristic of Jesus and our relationship to Him.
In the Genesis account we see Joseph when he was second in command to Pharaoh in Egypt. He is in the palace passing out food to the famine-struck people. But do we all remember the background of how he got there?
He was his father’s favorite son prancing around in his special coat. Then his jealous brothers threw him into a pit and sold him to some Ishmaelites who sold him to Potiphar who later put him in prison. Then he was called to the palace to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. After that he was promoted to look after the distribution of grain during the 7 years of plenty and the 7 years of famine.
When the famine got so bad back home in Israel, his brothers came to Egypt to get some food. After a little more drama Joseph finally reveals himself to his brothers and tells them not to be distressed or angry with themselves. He kisses them and explains that he does not hold anything that happened to him against them.
WHAT??? This is such unfathomable forgiveness!
I mean he wouldn’t have had to suffer the pain of the pit and prison if they had not almost tried to kill him!
Certainly it was all their fault! How could he forgive them?
But Joseph says it was God’s way of getting him into the position to be able to save not only the people of Egypt, but his own family as well.
“God sent me before you to preserve your life.”
Now hold that thought and let’s go on to look at the passage in Romans a little closer….
Verse 1 says:
Has God rejected his people? By no means!
Verse 29 says, “For the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.”
God never revokes the gift of forgiveness nor the call to come to him.
Verse 32 explains that God has consigned all to disobedience that he might have mercy on all.
This does not mean universal salvation (that everyone will be saved) but that there is a universal NEED for salvation.
He gave us over (that’s what “consigned” means) to our freewill to obey or not to obey and we all chose the way of disobedience.
Both Jews and Gentiles sinned, missed opportunities, and perverted God’s gifts.
So even though the Jews may have thought they got mercy because they were God’s favorite they actually got effectively “sent to Egypt” and forgotten about for a while to prepare the way for other nations to receive God’s word and accept Him.
Paul says even their rejection of Jesus turned out well because it gave the Gentiles an opportunity to respond to God’s mercy.
Now doesn’t that sound like a New Testament parallel to Joseph’s plight?
And doesn’t that sound like what Christ has done for us?
For a while he was the favored one.
Then he was the rejected one,
and finally he was the one by which God saves many.