This sermon was preached at the Bread of Life conferences during Wednesday Matins.
Rev. Duane Bamsch
The big, awkward reveal is still in the future. Joseph will tell his brothers who he is and why they’ve been put through all of this, but not just yet. Our Lord God has a plan to protect and care for His people, and until it is ready, Joseph’s identity remains hidden.
Joseph’s brothers are beyond anxious though. They are concerned from the moment they approach Joseph’s door. “Now what? We are surely going to prison for stealing the money from the grain on our last trip! We are all going to die here!”
Even though they are assured that the money in their sacks is gift, they still worry. Why? A guilty conscience. After all, even when a good kid is summoned to the principal’s office for a good reason, he still worries, right? “What did I do?” “What’s going on?”
Joseph’s brothers are terrified of what’s going to happen. They are utterly certain that the end is near for them. They’ve finally made one mistake too many, and the wrath of God is going to smite them with a mighty smiting at the hand of this Egyptian.
Sure, it was all those years ago that they sold their brother into slavery and told dear old dad that he had been eaten by wild beasts. They even had a bloody cloak to prove it—to cover their tracks. Now, it was time to pay. Now the wrath of God is about to be revealed—they are sure of it.
But it was not to be. Against all of their expectations, they are ushered into the banquet hall. They are invited to the table, invited to the feast. They were worried that they were going to their own doom, but Joseph knew better. He had a greater plan in mind—a plan of love, a plan of salvation for his family, and a reunion with his long-unseen father, Jacob.
If anyone deserved to retaliate against his brothers, it would be Joseph, right? How could we deny him the opportunity to return the evil his brothers heaped upon him? Certainly, he would be justified in his wrath against these lying, scheming brothers of his. Even with that in mind, look how Joseph responds—not out of anger, not out of hate, but out of righteousness and love. Even when he has every right to destroy them, Joseph responds with love. He repays their evil with grace.
What about you? How often do you approach the Lord’s house in trepidation? How often are you afraid as you pass through the doors into His holy presence, certain that a great smiting awaits you? Certain that your lies and sins will be laid bare for all to see? Certain that everyone will see and know what kind of hypocrite you are, how much of a failure you’ve been, how much you’ve been hiding from everyone for so long?
Thanks be to God that Joseph is a picture of our Lord Christ for you today! Just as Joseph responds in love to his brothers who wished him harm, so also your Lord Christ sets you a place at His table at the feast and in peace and abundantly heaps up your plate.
Young Benjamin never could have expected to receive five times the amount his brothers received at the table. Yet Joseph blesses him beyond measure seemingly out of nowhere. But it wasn’t out of nowhere, was it? This was Joseph’s beloved baby brother. This is the one person he has wanted to see so badly for so long. And now, finally, he’s able to look his little brother in the eye and see that he is well.
Your Lord Christ, could have treated you as you deserved. He could have turned His back on you and abandoned you as Joseph’s brothers abandoned him. Yet, God our Father had a greater plan in mind—a plan to protect and care for His people, a plan to prepare a place for you, even if you were still His enemy, still turned away from Him in your sin.
But God your Father didn’t leave you as His enemy. His Joseph, your Lord Jesus, went into the enemy’s house—into death itself—and triumphed over it. He showed his Kingship and Lordship in His dying and rising so that you would have a place at His table. He washed you in the waters of your Holy Baptism so that you would be clean and dressed in His presence and at His table. And that place at His table brings you such a great and wonderful gift. Upon that banquet table, upon that altar is the very Body and Blood of your Risen Lord Jesus “given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”
And, as the Small Catechism says, “where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also [eternal] life and salvation.” In the face of all your sin, Christ Jesus—your “big brother” in the faith—refuses to treat you as you deserve.
He sets a place at His eternal feast for you. He has dressed you, He has called you into His presence, and He places before you His gifts—gifts to receive in joy, gifts that make you merry with Him, and gifts that preserve you, body and soul, unto life everlasting. Amen.