This morning’s Scripture from Genesis 45 is one of great wonder. Why were his brothers so dismayed to see Joseph? Verse 3 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, so dismayed were they at his presence. Joseph was sobbing while he said these things. It had been years since he had been seen by his brothers, the rascals who threw him in a pit so many years ago. What was it like for them to see him again? Were they simply “dismayed” or was it remorse? Did they feel guilty? They certainly should have. Were they frustrated as if to say, can’t we ever get rid of this guy? Don’t you wonder what gave Joseph the resolve to approach his brothers after all they had done to him?
I can tell you, I have tried to be caring and sympathetic with one vindictive family member many a time and to tell you the truth, I have given up. Not on the person, but on trying to make peace with that person. Maybe my not trying so hard is making peace with the relationship. Peaceful détente has a sacred place in our volatile world. Joseph however, is a very big man. He has found a way to accept that he was thrown in the pit and became a slave in Egypt not because of the actions of his creepy, jealous brothers, but because it was exactly where God wanted him. Because of their cruel act, God was able to position Joseph in the driver's seat of power and influence for all of Egypt, which sorely needed his leadership.
You know what really stands out for me here? If it is true, or if you believe that God did position Joseph in this way for just this kind of monumental service, God sure picked the right guy. Joseph was an amazingly patient, forgiving, loving person and I don’t know anyone who would have done as well as he did. He somehow managed to take the terrible, dangerous, heinous things his own brothers did to him and turn his life around to become the ruler of a vast, well managed nation. He made the finest, purest lemonade out of the sourest of lemons AND then, even more importantly, he gave God all the credit. What insurmountable odds have you had to overcome in your life? When and if you did overcome it, were you able to offer thanks to God and accredit God for all that happened? That’s what Joseph did. That’s the kind of guy he was.
Interestingly, turning to the scripture from Matthew today we find that Jesus, was not such a saint in this Gospel, at least not at first in this instance. Jesus was confronted by a Canaanite woman, someone outside of his immediate culture, to aid her possessed child saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” According to the scripture text, Jesus did NOT jump at that opportunity. He actually said, because she was not of his faith tribe that he would not help her out, citing this; Verse 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”