For seventeen years, they had all lived in harmony together in the land of Goshen. But now, with the death of their father, they feared that the one who sat on the right hand of the king of Egypt, the most powerful king on earth, would forget about the forgiveness he had offered so many years before.
Joseph, of course, reassured them that this was not to be the case. I underscored his love for them as he reminded them that they might have intended to do him harm when they had sold him into slavery and told his father he was dead; but that God had intended it all for good.
While he had certainly been mistreated at their hands, his love for them was nonetheless beyond question. Why? Because God had required him to suffer in order that that they might be saved from a terrible famine, and then that they might be protected in Goshen while they grew into the great nation He wanted them to be. Though he had suffered, he had been delivered by God. And because of this, so had they.
In this respect, Joseph is certainly a type of Jesus Christ. As chapters 52-53 of the Old Testament book of Isaiah make plain, Jesus was the One Who suffered on our behalf. God laid on Him the iniquity of us all; and by His stripes we are healed.
You see, just like with Joseph, Jesus' own brethren turned on him. Blood was shed and He was then placed down in a pit. He went from there to the prison of the underworld. But, just as He had done for Joseph, God also delivered Jesus! For lo and behold, He later came back up... quite alive and well! Thereafter, He ascended to the right hand of a King. Only this was not just the king of some puny little earthly kingdom, but rather the King of the entire Universe!
And yet, in spite of all this, Jesus still offers us forgiveness! Why? Because He knows that His suffering was ordained of God. What we had intended for evil; God intended for good. His sacrifice bought our freedom. And that sacrifice was one of love.
As John 3:16-18 says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son."
Dr. R. G. Lee, long time Pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, once told a powerful story illustrating the love God has for us in Jesus Christ. It was that of a pioneer woman crossing a prairie with her baby in her arms.
"As she journeyed along, she saw in the distance a dark cloud of smoke; small at first but gradually increasing in size until it grew to immense proportions. She knew it was a prairie fire. She saw she could not possibly escape the scorching and singeing tongues of the flame because it was traveling with lighting-like speed.
She prepared for the inevitable. As the fiery billows rolled like a seething mass across the prairie, she knelt down, dug a hole as quickly and as deeply as she could and laid her baby in the hole. As the roaring flames, like merciless demons approached, she threw herself across the hole in the ground.
In a moment it was all over. Later her charred body was found over the spot. But the baby was alive. She had given herself for her babe. Her sacrifice saved the babe from a fiery death."
Dr. Lee concluded with these remarks, "Likewise Christ died. With His scourge-cut, thorn-pierced, beaten and crucified body, Jesus COVERED us from the burning wrath of God who, as to sins, is a consuming fire."
Oh the grace and mercy of God made possible through Jesus Christ. No, it is not deserved! But it is freely offered and freely given. And once given and received, it will never be taken away.
Have you sought it today? If not, will you?
SOURCE: Dr. Lee was a master communicator, known far and wide for his famous sermon titled "Payday Someday". This particular story is available widely on the internet. See, for example, the version found at this page: http://www.uu.edu/centers/rglee/fellows/SPRING98/Massey.htm.