The Unexpected, Undeserved Joy of Grace
“So they all feasted and drank freely with him.” – Genesis 43:34 NLT
If you had never read this story before, you would expect it to end in revenge and retribution. Joseph, the young man sold into slavery by his own brothers, had the chance to get even. He had every right and every opportunity to pay back his brothers for their treatment of him all those years ago. He could have had them imprisoned, beaten, permanently enslaved, or even killed. But instead, Joseph extends grace. He shows them mercy. This story ends in an unexpected way – with the brothers seated at the table of the one whom they have betrayed – eating and feasting together. In the midst of a time of famine, they are treated to a sumptuous feast. Instead of being treated as enemies, they are treated as special guests. They are given the royal treatment. Joseph’s actions towards his brothers is a perfect illustration of grace. He showed them unmerited favor. They did not deserve what they were receiving. In fact, they deserved just the opposite. Not only did Joseph throw a party in their favor, he is the one who had filled their sacks with money when they departed the first time (Genesis 42:27). Joseph paid for their grain our of his own pocket and returned their money to them. When they tried to give the money back, Joseph’s house steward informs them that their God must have put the money there, because he had their initial payment in his possession the whole time (Genesis 43:23). In other words, Joseph paid their debt. The grain they had been eating all this time had been a gift and had cost them nothing.
I can’t help but read this story and be reminded of how many times I have offended my Savior, Jesus Christ. Yet He showers me with grace. I regularly betray Him and turn my back on Him, and His response if the invite me to feast with Him. He extends to me grace, kindness, and mercy. These brothers knew what they deserved for their treatment of Joseph, and they had lived their lives fully expecting the other shoe to drop. They were waiting for God to get even with them for what they had done. “This has all happened because of what we did to Joseph long ago. We saw his terror and anguish and heard his pleadings, but we wouldn’t listen. That’s why this trouble has come upon us. ‘Didn’t I tell you not to do it?’ Reuben asked. ‘But you wouldn’t listen. And now we are going to die because we murdered him'” (Genesis 42:21-22 NLT). They were guilt-ridden and lived their lives fully expecting to be paid back for their indiscretion. But to their surprise, they found themselves being treated to a feast. And they don’t even know the whole story yet! Tomorrow, we will see their shock when they discover who it is that is treating them to a feast and showering them with favor. But we should be reminded that our God is showering us with favor each and every day of our lives. He is showing us undeserved grace. He is extending mercy. We have the opportunity to feast at His table each day. It makes no sense. It seems illogical. But it is the way of our Savior. “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it” (Hebrews 4:16 NLT).
Father, thank You for Your grace. Thank You for reminding me that every day that I get to spend with You is a picture of the grace made available through Your Son. I can come boldly before Your throne and not fear retribution or revenge, because Jesus Christ has paid my debt in full. I owe nothing, but at the same time, I deserve nothing. And yet what I receive from Your hand is grace upon grace. Unbelievable! Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men