Claimed …. Called …. Sent

Tuesday, February 27

Genesis 42:1-17 NRSV
When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you keep looking at one another? I have heard,” he said, “that there is grain in Egypt; go down and buy grain for us there, that we may live and not die.” So ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain in Egypt. But Jacob did not send Joseph’s brother Benjamin with his brothers, for he feared that harm might come to him. Thus the sons of Israel were among the other people who came to buy grain, for the famine had reached the land of Canaan.

Now Joseph was governor over the land; it was he who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground. When Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke harshly to them. “Where do you come from?” he said. They said, “From the land of Canaan, to buy food.” Although Joseph had recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. Joseph also remembered the dreams that he had dreamed about them. He said to them, “You are spies; you have come to see the nakedness of the land!” They said to him, “No, my lord; your servants have come to buy food. We are all sons of one man; we are honest men; your servants have never been spies.” But he said to them, “No, you have come to see the nakedness of the land!” They said, “We, your servants, are twelve brothers, the sons of a certain man in the land of Canaan; the youngest, however, is now with our father, and one is no more.” But Joseph said to them, “It is just as I have said to you; you are spies! Here is how you shall be tested: as Pharaoh lives, you shall not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here! Let one of you go and bring your brother, while the rest of you remain in prison, in order that your words may be tested, whether there is truth in you; or else, as Pharaoh lives, surely you are spies.” And he put them all together in prison for three days.

Mark 3:31-35 NRSV
Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

We have the benefit of knowing the fate of Joseph’s brothers, so it is not much of a cliffhanger when the passage ends with Joseph throwing his brothers in prison with the threat that, if they are spies, they will die. But the brothers do not know their fate. They have traveled far in their desperation to get food; they are fearful and, as we read in Genesis 42:21-22, they still carry the guilt of their murderous actions against Joseph. The brothers are completely at Joseph’s mercy just as we are completely at God’s mercy.

We, like the brothers, are desperately seeking aid after having betrayed our brothers and sisters in Christ (see Mark 3:31-35).

But in our world, we do not understand mercy; mercy is seen as weakness and is often viewed as an unjust pardon of those who are in the wrong. We know exactly what we would do were we in Joseph’s situation. Had Joseph thrown away the keys to his brothers’ cells, we would have accepted that outcome. So it comes as a surprise when Joseph forgives his brothers. Our expectations are turned upside down, but Joseph’s mercy is but a glimpse of the mercy that God shows to each one of us.

What should our response to God’s mercy be?

I suspect that Jesus provides the answer in the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant, “should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?” (Matthew 18:33)

Audrey Assad, New Every Morning –

In the beginning, you hovered over the water
You broke an unbroken silence
You spoke light into darkness
And there was light

In the beginning, we were made in your image
And we were naked without shame
Till we fell for the darkness
And there was night

Your mercies are new
Your mercies are new
New every morning

Oh, in the beginning, there was the Word and he was God
And the Word was with God
And he dwelt among us
And there was life

In the beginning, the Lamb of God was broken
And his life was poured out
For the sins of the world
And there was life

Your mercies are new
Your mercies are new
New every morning

At the cross, at the cross
Where I first saw your light
At the cross, at the cross
I received my sight
At the cross
Where you laid down your life

Your mercies are new
Your mercies are new
New every morning

Meggie Lineberger