Today’s story: Genesis 50:15-26
We’ve been reading the story of Jacob’s sons this week and how a group of brothers sold one of their own into slavery and told their father he was dead because they were envious of him. It is one of the most terribly wonderful stories ever told. The story is so famous that it was made into a Broadway musical (Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat) and has been retold in countless ways.
Why does this story persist through the millennia? The story of Joseph is the story of the Gospel. It holds within it the painful mystery of life and the paradox of our existence. It also serves as a bookend to bring a form of resolution to the book of Genesis.
The story of Genesis starts with God’s action of creation. God brings order out of chaos and calls it good. That is God’s intention for creation: to bring about a good and trustworthy garden (world). God creates humanity and life (the literal meaning of the names Adam and Eve) to be co-creators of this good and trustworthy garden. They are naked and unashamed. But then, they taste the knowledge of good and evil. They know the pain and treachery of which they are capable and humanity is plunged into the deluge of violence and drown in the flood of Noah.
God’s intention for a good and trustworthy garden persists and the promise is embodied in the covenant with Abraham. Isaac laughs. Jacob wrestles. But Joseph, ah Joseph. Finally, at the end of the story, someone actually embodies the promise in word and deed.
The entire Gospel is encapsulated in today’s story. The evil that Joseph’s brothers did against him leads them to fear and shame. Like Adam and Eve hid in the garden, and Cain was marked for the murder of Abel, Joseph’s brothers trembled in fear when they discovered that Joseph had the power to crush them. What does Joseph do? He forgives them, and beyond that, he sees God at work in the midst of evil.
This, my friends is the snapshot of Law and Gospel.1 Our warped and distorted intentions almost always lead to heartache and despair. We are human and in bondage to sin. Yet, God’s intention is to bring about a good and trustworthy garden. This can only happen when we align ourselves with God’s intentions and use power to bring good, and forgive (let go of) the evil.
The peaceful place in which Genesis ends is a snapshot of hope for the weary reader of Genesis. God’s promise is alive and well, in the midst of our evil and treachery. And that is good news.
Go in peace today, my friends.