The Key to Good Relationships. A sermon on Genesis 50:15-21
The Key to Good Relationships
† I.H.S. †
May the grace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ be so revealed in our lives, that we are certain that ALL things God intends for good.
You offended who?
Imagine if you offended someone with a lot of power. Say, the head of the CIA, or one of the leaders of the Mafia. Or to make it truly scary, the guy you cut off this morning, he’s waiting for you outside, and he is the head interrogator… Err… analyst for the IRS.
Can you imagine their fear the eleven brothers had that we heard about in the reading from Exodus, the person they offended had so much power that Joseph could have made them and their family disappear?
They were so afraid of him that they didn’t even go to beg for their lives themselves, they delegated that task to someone, coming up with a whopper of a story.
I can imagine the messenger trying to “sell it” to Joseph.
“Uhm, your brothers sent me… and uhm… they wanted me to tell you that your dad, uhm…. Before he died instructed them to tell you… you had to forgive them all that cruel stuff they did to you. Uhm like mocking you and tossing you into the pit, and saying they were going to kill you and then selling you to some passing merchants.
Uhm yeah, Mr. Prime Minister sir, yeah that’s the message they told me to say, uhm… please don’t kill the messenger?!?”
So afraid were they, that they didn’t get the message their brother told them in chapter 45, the same message he would give them here….
The same message we need to hear when we screw up, for it is the key to having good relationships, and really when one is broken, the only way to see those relationships reconciled, and healed.
Why the tears brother?
I usually look at this passage from Joseph’s perspective. But today, I want to see it from the brother’s perspective. There are people who have offended us, and that is a challenge, but do we ever think that someone we’ve offended would forgive us?
If we were to see the person we’ve offended cry as Joseph did, if we were to see them break down and weep, what would be going through our minds?
How would we understand his sobbing? Would we think he was re-living the pain, the agony, the loneliness we caused? Would his breakdown leave us more anxious, more worried, more afraid of what he would do?
It must have had an effect on them, for they no longer talked of being the servants of their father’s God.
They fell at Joseph’s feet and did something amazing.
They said they were his slaves. That he had complete power of their lives, as they took a position of incredible humility… and still they were unable to think of the idea of reconciliation, or true forgiveness.
They are like the prodigal son, eating the same food as the pigs he fed, because there was nothing else. He didn’t expect his Father would forgive him, but maybe he would accept him as a hired hand, or even a slave.
and maybe that person we offended would recognize we were people again. They might not ever be friends again, but maybe they wouldn’t be actively hostile toward us?
The power of knowing God
I think the reason they struggled with reconciling broken relationships is they were missing something.
They didn’t understand how God worked, because they never looked for what God was doing. They didn’t understand what Joseph had seen in Potiphar’s house, or in the jails, the very distinct and certain path God had planned.
Joseph couldn’t have become prime minister without meeting the cup bearer in jail, he couldn’t have bene there if he hadn’t been a slave in Potiphar’s house, he couldn’t have been sold to Potiphar unless his brothers betrayed him and sold him into slavery in the first place.
Each step, miraculously led to the next, and what was planned for evil God intended to use for good.
The other offense.
Joseph knew the heart of God, the heart of the Lord whom we have offended.
For our sins, much more numerous than those of the eleven brothers, offend Him. He’s created us, given us a simple task of loving Him and each other, and we fail too often. And like Joseph’s brothers, is there any way we could ever believe He would cry over our betrayal?
That somehow, God could plan for what we intended that was unloving and sinful to somehow end up being for good?
Yet in cross, where Jesus died to ensure our forgiveness, we see the ultimate version of what Joseph knew. He knew the heart of God, and that God would always call us back to Him. Perhaps he listened to his father, a pretty notorious sinner who even wrestled with God, fighting for a blessing. Or remembered the stories of his grandfather and great grandfather, whom God would use and make promises to, even as they weren’t always faithful.
God always plans to call us back, to renew and heal us from our sin. He will care for us as Joseph cared for his brothers, even comforting us and reassuring us about the promises He makes to us, the promise made to little David this morning.
The promise that is renewed here, when we are given the body and blood of Jesus, the blood spilled out as man did the ultimate evil, killing someone who was innocent.
And yet out of that ultimate evil, comes the greatest act of mercy, as Jesus died not just because they killed them, but to forgive every sin we’ve have committed. Every single one.
This is the heart of God that Joseph saw, the sacred Heart that cares for us more than the pain we caused.
The heart of God that would cry over our sins, and then call us back to Him, and care for us, providing for us.
This is our God, and trusting in Him, we can find peace overwhelming our anxieties, our fears washed away by His comfort, our sins washed away by His blood.
For what we meant for evil, God used for good.
It was our evil… it was for our good.
This is the secret to good relationships – the power of God to reconcile us to Himself, and then there – we are already reconciled to each other.
He calls to you today as well, offering that peace, which doesn’t make sense to us, but in which He promises to care for us, for we dwell in in Jesus. Amen.