Genesis 43-44, Matthew 22

Unworthy Guests.

Genesis 43-44, Matthew 22

Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. – Matthew 22:9-10 ESV

What an incredible story. With the help of God, Joseph had risen from the ashes and was now the second most powerful man in the entire land of Egypt. Through him the nation of Egypt would be saved from the famine that threatened to destroy them. Not only that, he would prove to be the savior of his own family, the descendants of Abraham. They would come to Egypt looking for food to sustain their lives. Little did they know that their trip would be in fulfillment of the dream Joseph had shared with them so many years earlier. Coming into Joseph’s presence, but unaware of his true identity, “…they bowed their heads and prostrated themselves” before him. In this portion of the story, they had returned to buy more grain, but also to fulfill their commitment to return with their youngest brother, Benjamin. Upon arrival, they are rushed into Joseph’s presence and given an elaborate feast. Rather than anger, they are greeted with hospitality and graciousness. They found themselves eating with this powerful Egyptian dignitary, in his home and at his table. “And the men looked at one another in amazement” (Genesis 43:33 ESV). They were blown away at their welcome. They had come in fear, expecting the worst, and instead were shown undeserved mercy and grace.

What does this passage reveal about God?

While there is much more to this story, one of the main points seems to be the surprising treatment the brothers received. By this time, we are fully aware of the gravity of their decision to sell Joseph into slavery. We have seen them plotting his death and then settling for the lesser of two evils. We have seen the sins of Judah and the ongoing lie they all lived, leaving their father to believe that Joseph had been killed by wild animals. Joseph had every right to seek revenge on these worthless individuals, and he had the power to do so. But instead, he showed them grace and mercy. He opened up his home and served them a sumptuous meal rather than giving them their just desserts. In the same way, God has extended mercy to us, showering us with His grace and inviting us to His table. In the case of the brothers, it was the son of Israel who was their ticket to the table. In our case, it is the Son of God who provides us with access into God’s presence.

Over in the Matthew passage we read yet another parable by Jesus referring to the kingdom of heaven. In this one, He uses the metaphor or a wedding feast. In the story, a king invites guests to attend the wedding of his son. When the great day came, and the guests were rounded up to take part in this wonderful celebration, they all refused to come, giving various excuses and rationalizations. Some of the guests even went as far as to murder the king’s servants. While this is a picture of the Hebrew people and their treatment of God and His messengers over the centuries, there is also an interesting parallel to the story of Joseph and his brothers. Because the king eventually opened up the doors of his home to those who were totally undeserving. He instructed his servants to go out into the highways and bi-ways and invite anyone they could find.  “And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad. So the wedding hall was filled with guests” (Matthew 22:10 ESV). In time, the banquet hall was filled with all kinds of individuals from all walks of life – none of whom deserved to be guests at the king’s feast. In the story of Joseph, his brothers found themselves the unlikely guests at a banquet they never expected and most assuredly, never deserved.

What does this passage reveal about man?

Joseph’s brothers were deserving of punishment. They also needed to understand the gravity of what they had done. For years they had learned to live with and cover up their actions. They had committed a great sin against Joseph and had grown callous to their actions and comfortable with their guilt. Only when things heated up did they begin to think about the seriousness of their sin and the possible long-term ramifications of their actions. When they first encountered Joseph, but were still unaware of his true identity, they said, “In truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us and we did not listen. That is why this distress has come upon us” (Genesis 42:21 ESV). That was a valuable lesson for them to learn. They needed to fully understand their guilt and the condemnation their sin deserved. Their place at the table would have had little meaning if they had not comprehended their own undeservedness. It took the cunning and craftiness of Joseph, cleverly setting up scenarios that seemed to intensify their guilt, to bring these brothers to an end of themselves. They were going to have to take their sin seriously before they could fully enjoy their presence at the table.

Many of us never fail to appreciate our place in God’s presence. We take it for granted. We somehow believe we deserve to be there. But like the guests at the wedding feast, we are undeserving of our place at the table. We have been invited, not because of our worthiness, but because of the King’s graciousness. He had extended the invitation, not because we deserve it, but in honor of His own Son. Like Joseph’s brothers, we should be blown away at the treatment we receive at the hand of God, knowing that we deserve is something far less enjoyable. It is because of the Son that we are able to enjoy God’s presence. It is because of the Son that we have a place at the King’s table. It is because of the Son that God can overlook our guilt and consider our debt paid. Judah and his brothers brought the son and gained access into the banquet hall. We simply have to do the same thing today. The Son is our ticket to the ultimate feast to come.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

There is a day coming when those of us who have placed our faith in the Son of God as our Savior will literally enter into the presence of God Himself and dine with Him. We will be treated to a feast beyond all comprehension that we could have never earned and for which we stand totally undeserving. We will be amazed that, in spite of all we have done and how undeserving we have been, we will find ourselves sitting at the table with the King of kings and Lord of lords.

“Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready;it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure’— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.And the angel saidto me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ And he said to me, ‘These are the true words of God’” (Revelation 19:6-9 ESV).

What an incredible day that will be!

Father, thank You so much for providing me with access to your banquet hall because of Your Son. Thank You for extending to me an invitation that I couldn’t have earned and for which I was totally undeserving. Never let me forget the reality of my own sin and guilt. Never let me assume that I was somehow worthy of Your grace and deserving of Your mercy. I stand amazed in Your presence! Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

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