Extreme Grace

When we lived in Springfield, Illinois, a friend (and member of our church) worked on the Governor’s staff. I was pleasantly surprised when he offered me and Christy tickets to the Inaugural Ball. It was pretty cool to be involved in a VIP event of this sort. Our coats were taken at the door; we were invited to enjoy an unbelievable display of prime rib, seafood and all kinds of hors d’oeuvres. We were able to dance, feast and rub shoulders with celebrities. We clearly did not belong at the event. I was a youth pastor, not a political supporter. Yet, we enjoyed the elevated treatment for one evening.

In this week’s story, Joseph’s brothers make the trek to Egypt in search of food. When they arrive, Joseph recognizes them, but they don’t know Joseph. Joseph has a plan. He accuses the brothers of espionage. Terrified, they return home only to find the silver (the money used to buy the grain) in their bags. Now they will be accused of robbery. It seems that everything is going wrong. They interpret their misfortune as God’s punishment for selling Joseph into slavery. They are instructed to return with their younger brother, Benjamin. In time, they return because of the severity of the famine.

When they arrive in Egypt (for the second time), they are frightened, uncertain; they fear they will be enslaved or killed. But their treatment is not what they expected.

(Genesis 43:33 NIV) The men had been seated before him in the order of their ages, from the firstborn to the youngest; and they looked at each other in astonishment.

They could not believe what was happening. In their minds, they deserved death. They sold Joseph into slavery and God was enacting revenge. You could also make the case that Joseph should have taken his chance for retaliation. However, they are invited to feast, to enjoy the plenty in Egypt.

(Genesis 43:34 NIV) When portions were served to them from Joseph’s table, Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as anyone else’s. So they feasted and drank freely with him.

Benjamin gets more food, but all the brothers are feasting and drinking freely. This is a beautiful story of grace. The brothers are astonished by such generosity. Their treatment defies fairness. Yet, they receive and are blessed.

As we think about this story, we will come to the Lord’s Table together on Sunday. We are welcomed to a table that we don’t deserve. We have experienced an abundant grace that covers our sins. It is crucial that we live in this grace each day. I hope that you can join us on Sunday as we explore this story and remember together the blood shed for us, the body broken for us.