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Character Sketches: Joseph

Recorded on May 26th, 2019

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Can you forgive gracefully? Can you extend that grace and forgiveness to yourself? Joseph did. So can you.

Transcript of Sermon:

[Music] the scripture this morning is from Genesis 45 1 through 7 then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants and he cried out have everyone leave my presence so there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers and he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him and Pharaoh’s household heard about it Joseph said to his brothers I am Joseph is my father still living but his brothers were not able to answer him because they were terrified of his presence then Joseph said to his brothers come close to me when they had done so he said I am your brother Joseph the one you sold into Egypt and now do not distress be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here because it was to save wives that God sent me ahead of you for two years now there have been famine in the land and from the next five years there will be no ploughing and reaping but God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant of on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance the Word of God for the people of God thanks be to God Thank You Owen have you ever really looked at a spiderweb closely my kids get really grossed out by them and I tend to get pretty grossed out by them too but if you see them I don’t like the ones that are in your garage like in the corner over stuff because they’re just gross but if you see them in the corner of something kind of majestically laid out kind of like starlings web but without the words because mine have never held words in them but every once in a while I’ll see one in the dew and i’ll glisten and it’ll be so beautiful and so intricately created and to know that this teeny tiny little creature put this web together just piece by piece bit by bit this beautiful web that if one little thing changed it would all fall apart this web piece by piece bit by bit when I look at webs I think about webs and when I think about webs I think about relationships because a thing that’s intricate and delicate and woven together in such a way that if one thing changes or if one thing moves everything else falls apart it’s just like a relationship it’s just like family relationships intricate delicate woven together piece by piece and if one person or if one thing changes everything else related to that changes if something happens to one person in the family everyone else and that family is affected by it in one way or another if something happens to a great-grandfather something happens to the grandfather and then the father and then the grandkids in one way or another everyone in a trickle-down relationship is affected by that story and this is what you are seeing and the story of Joseph and this is what you see in the story of your own life and the story of relationships and what we’re going to end up seeing and talking about with Joseph at the bottom line of Joseph’s story today is an uncommon ability to forgive Joseph holds in his hand and is showing you and I an uncommon ability to forgive that comes from an uncommon ability or willingness to be vulnerable

[Music] and we’re going to look at how this uncommon ability to forgive and willingness to be vulnerable is the thing that we need to transform brokenness the brokenness that wrecks the web of relationships that all families experience because every family web every family grouping experiences brokenness on some level am i right no family escapes brokenness no family escapes hurt no family escapes feelings of betrayal and hurt on some level every family holds that inside of themselves and so today we’re gonna learn from Joseph and his family how forgiveness and vulnerability are the key to transforming the family web so let’s start by looking at Joseph’s story and how he gets to the scripture that we looked at today because his story spans many chapters in Genesis in fact what we looked at today in chapter 45 is the end of Joseph’s story it’s the very end of what happens and Joseph’s story is key not only to his family Joseph’s story is how Israel all together as a group of people end up in Egypt so it’s key to the Israelite story that’s not where we’re gonna focus on today but Joseph’s story is key to you and me Joseph is also the boy that we know of as Joseph who got the coat of many colors the one who had a play written about and many of you have seen Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat right and Joseph got that coat because his father loved him his father loved him more than he loved any of his other brothers and he had many many brothers but Joseph was the youngest of all of his brothers and so it was odd that his father loved him the most because the number one child in that time was the one who should have gotten all of the favor who should have gotten all of the blessing and who should have been loved the most but no it was Joseph who was loved the most and it was Joseph who was favored and because Joseph was favored his brothers hated him and that word is used in Scripture they hated him they loathed their brother Joseph they didn’t only hate him because his father loved him more they also had issues with Joseph because Joseph was a bit of a tattletale well he was the youngest so what do you expect and I’m sorry my youngest sister is here today and I’m not talking about you Nana she didn’t always tattletale it happens to look at Tom’s looking at his sister too who is the youngest and she’s the yeah it just happens right you know tattletaling and younger children happens my daughter we tell her nacho nacho business right because she is in kindergarten and that’s what her kindergarten teacher taught her when she was in kindergarten not so not show business because the youngest one likes to tell on the older ones because it’s the only power they really have right they have no power in life but to tell on the older ones and that is what Joseph did he told on his older brothers frequently and then he also had these dreams he had these dreams that told many told his brothers and his parents about them and his dreams seemed to say that at some point in his life he was going to be in charge of not only his brothers but his parents which in that time was completely unheard of and that really made them it really chafed them it really got them up under the skin and they did not like what was happening so one day the brothers angry righteous in their anger righteous in their jealousy righteous in their feelings of gross nough stored their brother Joseph they’ve probably had a litany a whole list of reasons why Joseph was just the worst person on the face of the planet they decided that they wanted to kill Joseph Joseph just needed to go away but there was one brother Reuben who said okay come on we cannot do this we cannot kill our brother so instead they sold Joseph into slavery and Joseph ends up in Egypt and in Egypt he gets not only sold into slavery but he gets wrongly accused of raping a woman so he gets imprisoned and as he’s in prison for years and years for wrong I mean bad thing after bad thing after bad thing happens to Joseph because his brothers are jealous of him now if you think your family drama is bad if you think your family web has issues I’m thinking you got nothing on Joseph see Joseph has some righteous feelings too he’s been betrayed he’s been hurt and so his feelings I mean maybe he has some feelings of revenge I mean if I was Joseph I would want revenge I would feel hatred towards my brothers I would feel hurt I would feel so hurt and then what about the father because the father loved Joseph so much and the brothers tell the father that Joseph has died the brothers make it look like Joseph has been eaten by wild animals so the father thinks that Joseph is dead but Joseph is looked after by God because the entire time that bad thing after bad thing is happening to Joseph Joseph manages by all I don’t know how manages to act righteously time after time after time he maintains his behavior he maintains his righteousness and God blesses him because of it and God puts him in a position of authority and Egypt so that when a famine comes when food becomes scarce in the land where all of the Israelites live Joseph is in a position to help his family because his family realizes that they have to go to Egypt and they must go to Egypt and beg the Egyptians for food and so this is what happens Joseph’s family goes to Egypt and they go before the leader of Egypt not Pharaoh but his next his right hand and his right hand happens to be who Joseph but they don’t recognize that it’s Joseph they have no idea that it’s Joseph and they’re begging Joseph for food and at this point Joseph could do any number of things Joseph could turn them away righteously because they don’t deserve what they’re asking for they’ve essentially tried to kill him tried to sell him away I mean they don’t care what’s happened to him Joseph at this point is on the precipice of the decision he could give them food and not tell them who he is he could do what he does which is choose to reveal himself choose to make himself vulnerable to say I’m your brother all is forgiven come let me take care of you or he could choose revenge he could say no sorry we can’t help you as humans we have a choice and how we handle what has happened to us how we handle the web of things that have happened to us in life but it requires us to understand what is happening around us and we need to learn from Joseph how he handled this behavior so that we can learn how to better handle the web of things that have been passed down to us because Joseph’s family web didn’t just become corrupt with his brothers being crazy no it happened before him it happened generations before him with the generations that came before Joseph and his family the same is true for us our family dysfunction doesn’t just happen with our generation it happened with the generation before ours in the generation before that one and the generation before that one and we’re still paying the price for the dysfunction that happened generation before generation before generation and we just don’t realize it but we’re still making decisions based on it without really understanding what’s happening so how do we do better how do we do better and how do we live the kind of freedom that Joseph lived in so I want to show you something I want to show you what my counsellor yes I have a counsellor and if you have a family I’m just gonna say you should have a counsellor because anyone who has a family should have counsellor because families make us not so healthy sometimes and counsellors help us to see clearly sometimes this is what we call a genogram this is what a family web looks like and now you don’t have to know what all these little things are but this is a family web and this is what family webs look like this is how we relate to each other and this shows you how generations fill down do you see how this generation here affects this generation down here in this gen generation down here the decisions start to pile down and they bleed down into the next generations that go below but if you don’t understand how things up here started to affect things that go down here you have a hard time understanding while you’re making the decisions that you’re making today our webs are intricate and delicate and unlike a spiderweb that once it’s been blown on can never be redeemed a family web can be made whole F family web can be redeemed but the key to redeeming a family web is transformation through vulnerability and forgiveness and that starts with you because it takes one person to choose vulnerability and forgiveness you can’t choose how these people behave you can’t choose how these people behave you can’t choose how these people behave you can only choose how you behave and with one person choosing vulnerability and forgiveness an entire family web can start to change an entire family web can start to change with one person’s choice of vulnerability and forgiveness and that’s what Joseph did Joseph’s brothers and the generations before chose to live in their feelings of hurt and betrayal I mean think about his brothers what feelings were they feeling anger and hurt and jealousy righteousness and their anger and hurt and jealousy they knew they were right about their feelings because they knew that Joseph was a tattling fool they knew that their father was being kind to their brother in a way that was not kind to them and that’s not fair is it right that’s not fair and it’s not nice and so they’re righteous in those feelings and sometimes when we’re righteous in their feelings we are the most dangerous to ourselves and to others and when we live in our righteous feelings instead of choosing to be vulnerable in our feelings we hurt people Josef’s brothers righteous in their feelings hurt Joseph but what God intends because what Joseph says at the end of this scripture he says God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant he said God had a plan for what you did now you need to be very careful in understanding this God did not make the brothers sell Joseph into slavery that was not God’s decision that is not what scripture is telling you here God redeemed the behavior of the brothers God fixed the decision of the brothers God did not need the brothers to do this in order to get Joseph to Egypt God could have done any number of things to get Joseph to Egypt God chose to redeem the bad behavior of the brothers God will redeem your bad behavior my bad behavior the bad behavior of your brother’s your sisters your parents your your children but it takes you being willing to forgive you being willing to be vulnerable enough to forgive Joseph had to choose to reveal himself Joseph had to choose to step forward he had to choose to let down his walls he had to choose to let go of all of those brightest feelings of hurt and betrayal because they were righteous he had a right to feel those feelings he had to choose to let them go in order to choose to forgive so that God could redeem this family and in redeeming this family God redeemed an entire nation and if you and I choose forgiveness and our families if you and I are the first to do that in our families God can redeem communities and Nations through us before we end I must say one thing about forgiving ourselves the brothers hated themselves at this point they felt so guilty for what they’d done they felt so awful for their behavior because they knew at this point what they had done there are so many things in my life that I have done that I feel wretchedly awful for that I know that I have hurt others that I have done something that I cannot fix that I cannot take back that I have been the person in this map that has caused this line holding on to this holding on to that guilt holding on to those feelings of unforgiveness towards myself is just as damaging is not forgiving somebody else so as I ask you to forgive those who you righteously hold feelings of unforgiveness towards I ask you to be vulnerable enough to forgive yourself for whatever it is that you’re still holding on to because God wants to redeem your family web to use your family to change this community to change this world the way that he did with Joseph’s family let’s pray God we thank you for today we thank you for this world we thank you for the opportunity to be a part of a family web families are messy and they are at the same time beautiful and God we get hurt sometimes and we also hurt sometimes help us to see where we are hurting help us to see those places that we’ve closed off and we walled up help us to allow ourselves to be vulnerable so that we can forgive so that we can heal our family webs so that you can redeem our family so that the world can be changed so that this remnant can be part of the world being healed for your glory it’s in your name which we pray, Amen.