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Reconciliation and Restoration
Sunday 24th September

We conclude our story of Joseph this morning with his reconciliation with his brothers. A powerful story that always brings me to tears.


Joseph had risen to power and was now placed over all the people, except Pharoah himself.


 We examine today the Christ-like attitude of Joseph yet as the saviour of the nation he still had the humility needed to be able to forgive and bring about restoration.


In the story, we know that Joseph has not only saved Egypt but his family too. He plays some tricks on his brothers, testing them to see if they have learnt their lesson. It's the ultimate test, do they care for their youngest brother Benjamin. Judah speaks up and offers himself in place of his brother. This act proves that they will not allow their father to lose another son. This very act of Judah cuts Joseph to the heart we pick up the story there. It's this act of willing sacrifice from Judah that turns the heart of Joseph. To be willing to offer himself in Benjamin's place.


Notice the scripture here in Genesis 45


“Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come closer to me.” And they came closer. He said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.”

Genesis 45:4-5 NRSV


In the most powerful reassuring words, he says “Don't be upset do not fear I am your brother.” Joseph seeks reconciliation. Do not be angry with yourselves. The brothers would have to learn to forgive themselves too.


Forgiveness is at the very heart of the gospel, without knowing our sins are forgiven we don't know that we are part of the new creation, and we don't have resurrection hope. 


However, if forgiveness is in our DNA we overcome evil. 


Paul says the mark of a true Christian is to bring about reconciliation with others. He writes 


“Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, and serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Romans 12:9-21 NRSV


Interesting to note here living in peace with everyone depends on you.


We don't defeat evil with evil, as the world may suggest. We overcome evil with good.


The gospel turns the world on its head. Go the extra mile turn the other cheek, love your enemies pray for those who persecute you. Those who serve become the greatest of all, laying out lives down brings us true life. 


Back to Joseph, we spoke about his trust in God, and his refusal to become bitter. Now the ultimate test, he comes face to face with his brothers. If there is any resentment it will come out here.


The story is so powerful, that we can ask ourselves do we carry the hurt and pain we have and continue to hurt others in bitterness. 


We have to believe that Forgiveness and reconciliation are possible, if it depends on me my heart has to refuse to hold a grudge.


Jesus took our sins and our guilt on the cross, when we receive forgiveness we are set free. Whom the son sets free is free indeed.


How do we forgive when we have been wronged? Joseph has been through 20 years of hurt. Through slavery and prison, he didn't hold onto the hurt, he didn't blame others and he shone bright with the presence of the Lord.


He wouldn't hold a charge, it was his character that saved the nation.


Fast forward 17 years, the brothers are still feeling guilty and wondering after their father dies they fear he will take his revenge. Joseph reassures them. What you did for evil, but God. God was at work for salvation.


“Then his brothers also wept, fell before him, and said, “We are here as your slaves.” But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? Even though you intended to harm me, God intended it for good, to preserve numerous people, as he is doing today.”

Genesis 50:18-20 NRSV


Whatever our pain, God can work out good things in our lives.


The truth is we may not have the ability to forgive people but God by his spirit has the ability. Can we be so full of the grace of God that grace flows out to others? 


There are times when we need to acknowledge that is only God himself that can deal with people with ultimate mercy and judgement.


How do we find the strength to forgive?


Jesus gives an example and a parable in Matthew 18.


Matthew 18 


“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”

Matthew 18:15-20 NRSV


“Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.”

Matthew 18:21-22 NRSV


Forgiveness is a constant attitude, there is always an opportunity to get hurt and offended. Have we suffered to the point of bloodshed have we been wronged in such a way what people have done to us is unforgivable?


When we come into agreement and begin to free others Christ is present among us. 


Christ we know was crucified not for his sin but for our sins, yet he did this to reconcile the world to God and the example Jesus set for us was right there on the cross, “Forgive them for they know not what they do”


Still in Matthew 18, Jesus tells the story of the unforgiving servant 


The story goes, that a servant who owed a lot of money was forgiven but refused to pass on that forgiveness to others.


The human capacity to forget God's gracious gift of forgiveness and allow the smallness of our soul to breed unforgiveness is soberingly warned against. 


1) Jesus showed how unforgiveness can restrict what God would do in others.


 2) Jesus teaches how the spirit of unforgiveness (the torturers, literally

*bill collectors*) exacts its toll on our bodies, minds, and emotions. 


Finally, every"kingdom person is advised to sustain a forgiving heart toward all other persons. 


The "binding" power of unforgiveness is potentially dangerous to any of us. 


The power to"bind and lose" is quickly shown to be as much of a liability as an asset if unforgiveness remains in the people of God's kingdom.


The warning Jesus gives is not so much us getting into legalism. Christ forgave us while we were yet sinners. So what Jesus is saying to her is a stern warning, this is how it works.


“So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Matthew 18:35 NRSV


Anger and hatred are not something we want to carry with us. We ought to set before our eyes God’s compassion towards us, and free love in forgiving us, potently to move us to forgive those who have done us injury, and to forgive them out of that consideration. 


Forgiveness is about binding and losing. If we hold on to unforgiveness we are the ones bound. 


When we forgive others it releases us and them from prison.


Free people can love forgive and free others. Hurt people hurt people.


The servant in the parable put someone else into prison for their small debt, yet he had been forgiven so much.


Paul writes it's because we have been freely forgiven that we can forgive.“Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”

Colossians 3:13 NRSV


Back to Joseph and how he tested his brothers, to see if they learned their lesson on how to treat their brother. It was a test to see if their hearts had changed. I think Joseph had either let go of the hurt in his heart or that he never took an account of all the evil that was done to him.


He says “What you meant for Evil God turned around for good.”


when we ask ourselves can we forgive this person, we remember that we were once dead in our sins, but now we are free. We no longer live in the old nature that repays evil for evil.



The realisation that we are undeserving of the grace of God, we have been forgiven so much how can we not forgive others


Colossians 2


“And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it.”

Colossians 2:13-15 NRSV


Have you accepted Christ, been baptised into Christ, had your sins forgiven and now living a new life awaiting Christ’s return?


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