Love That Goes Beyond Justice

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Summer in the Psalms is a sermon and written reflection series from the Revised Common Lectionary.

Read

Psalm 67

Genesis 45:1-15

Reflect

Psalm 67 tells us that one of God’s central concerns is justice is for the whole earth. In the New Testament, Jesus’ ministry and life demonstrate that love goes further than justice, bringing reconciliation and restoration to those are far from God or in conflict with each other.

In Genesis 45:1-15, Joseph is finally reconciled to the brothers that sold him into slavery. He spent years as a slave, then in prison, before God brought him to a position of power in Egypt and used him to prepare Egypt and the surrounding countries for many years of famine.

When Joseph finally reveals himself to his brothers, it’s a tense and dramatic scene. Joseph cries copiously on all his brothers. The story doesn’t tell us what his brothers did, but they probably felt a combination of shock, horror, shame, relief that Joseph was alive after all these years, and abject fear at how he might take his revenge.

How does this story illustrate God’s love that goes beyond justice? Joseph, far from punishing his brothers as they deserved, chooses to see God’s hand in what happened. He forgives them and points them towards the larger purpose: God’s plan to save the people of Israel from famine. Joseph shows his brothers love they didn’t expect and certainly didn’t earn.

God also showed love to Joseph in unexpected ways. God had told Joseph in dreams, a long time ago, that he would rule over his brothers and father. But Joseph must have been afraid that his father (who had to be extremely old at this point) had already died; earlier in the story, he asks his brothers repeatedly whether their father is still alive. Joseph also had no clue that he had a younger brother. All of his other brothers were half-brothers – sons of different mothers; Benjamin was the son of both Joseph’s mother and father. God gave Joseph the incredible gift of being able to save his father and his entire family from famine and added the bonus of a brother whose existence he had never suspected.

Respond

Have you broken faith with God or with another person? Ask Jesus to forgive you and bring reconciliation to your relationships.

Remember you are a child of God, greatly loved by Him (1 John 3:1). Ask God to make you newly aware of how much He cares for you, plans for your future, and blesses you in ways you could not have earned or imagined.

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