and reuben answered them, “did i not tell you not to sin against the boy? but you did not listen. so now there comes a reckoning for his blood.” they did not know that joseph understood them, for there was an interpreter between them. then he turned away from them and wept. and he returned to them and spoke to them. and he took simeon from them and bound him before their eyes. and joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, and to replace every man’s money in his sack, and to give them provisions for the journey. this was done for them. [genesis 42:22-25]

i cannot even imagine the pit in joseph’s stomach. the heartbreak must have been intense as he listened to his brothers discuss their grievous sin against him as if he was not even there. joseph recognized his brothers, but they could not recognize him. it’s easy to understand why joseph would have to turn away and weep, as flashbacks to crying out in that pit may have lurked about in his mind.

but then joseph turned to them.

don’t miss this- in his immense grief, joseph turned toward his past perpetrators. and he spoke to them.

here’s the moment in the story where i expect joseph to lash out… to get anything he’s been harboring off his chest for the last 13+ years. instead, joseph follows his word in binding up simeon and giving them their grains to take home. then he goes one step further: joseph restores every brother’s money and gives them provisions. he gives them what they do not deserve…


this story gives such a good picture of the gospel. brothers and sisters, we are so much more similar to joseph’s brothers than we would like to admit. man’s internal evil (iniquity) led man to exhibit evil in the world (sin). our sin put Jesus on the cross, just as the brothers’ sin threw joseph in that pit. even the disciples fled from Jesus when he was captured, leaving him to die.

and despite our evil toward Jesus, he gives life to his repentant people. not just an existence, but an abundant life, full of joy, restoration, and purpose in him alone (john 10:10). Jesus gives us his provision. what a God we serve, that takes our filthy rags of sin and gives us way more than we could ever deserve: himself. his grace. his mercy, his purpose, his abundant life.

he loved us first (1 john 4:19). when we enter into his presence, he now gives us eyes to recognize him. we don’t need an interpreter; we talk directly with him. and while we never truly leave his presence, he still packs our bags with his grace, mercy, and abundant life as we encounter the broken world around us.

Lord, we believe, help our unbelief. thank you. thank you. thank you, Jesus. fill us with your life today. help us to remember your presence as we encounter a sinful world full of broken people. amen.

~ jm