Joseph: How Faith and Character are formed - Week 8 - Reconciliation
Reading: Genesis 44:1-45 & 45:1-16
Sermon date: 22 July
Spend a few moments thinking back over your life, have there been times when you have struggled to be reconciled to another person? Was this resolved? Or is it still something that you would like to resolve?
Talk to another person in your group about this (leaders, please be aware that this might raise potential pain and difficulty for some)
Please read Genesis 44:1-45 and 45: 1-16
Q1. Can you remember anything from last Sunday's sermon that struck you?
In our lives as Christians, the most important aspect is surely our ‘relationships’, firstly our relationship with God and then with each other. Whenever there is a broken relationship, our hearts desire is that of reconciliation?
Q2. Have you ever witnessed a fractured family or friendship being reconciled or reunited?
I have based the questions on chapter 45 mostly and as you answer do be aware of all that has happened in chapter 44 and try to place yourself in the shoes of Judah, Benjamin, the brothers and Joseph.
It is a deeply moving experience to see reconciliation happen, that’s why chapter 45 of Genesis moves us so deeply. We are looking on as Joseph is reconciled to his brothers after 22 years of separation and estrangement. After Judah’s impassioned plea on behalf of his brother Benjamin and their Father (44: 18-34) Joseph has seen that his brothers have truly repented of the terrible sin that they committed of having him sold into slavery. Joseph pours out his emotions saying to his brothers
‘I am Joseph! Is my Father still alive?’
Q3. What feelings do you feel the brothers would have felt as they heard the Egyptian governor say ‘I am Joseph’ (anger, fear, shame, remorse, and disbelief?) especially in light of all that has happened in chapter 44.
In the translation, Joseph speaks to them in Hebrew, for 22 years the rumours had spread that he was dead and now he stand before his brothers, very much alive and a powerful man. He speaks to them in their own tongue, the tongue of their childhood, they are shocked, even dismayed at what they hear. Note that up to verse 16, Joseph does all the speaking, the brothers remain silent.
Q4. What do you feel these first 16 verses show us about reconciliation?
(listening, letting go of control, being brave to face what might be said, having the right attitude)
Joseph continues as the brothers also speak, he shows no anger or bitterness towards them. He never threatens them or retaliates in any way. Instead Joseph speaks kindly to them and shows them every intent of treating them well. He promises to provide for them and their children through the coming years of famine. In verse 16 he not only embraces and kisses Benjamin but also all of his brothers, weeping with them, for once he/they were lost but now they are found.
It must have been an amazing moment!
Q5. How do you feel as you read chapter 45?
This all seems wonderful but in life and at times it doesn’t seem to work out like that, so here are some other questions that you might like to discuss as a group, holding all that we have learned and seen in Joseph to the front of our minds.
Q6. How do we forgive, when we don’t feel like forgiving?
Q7. While we should be quick to forgive in our hearts, the act of extending that forgiveness verbally should be delayed until there is evidence of repentance. Agree/Disagree?
Joseph shows us that the key to reconciliation is our attitude and how we trust and love God.
He speaks strongly and powerfully in chapter 44 but he waits until the right time before he expresses verbally and non-verbally his forgiveness and loving spirit in chapter 45.
Q8. How will we change our attitude towards those we have been broken apart from, maybe from our actions or their actions towards us?
Q9. How will we know when the right time is?
Q10. What if we are unable to be reconciled?
Maybe these few words by a well-known commentator will sum up all that we have learnt and discussed.
‘This scene exposes the anatomy of reconciliation. It’s about loyalty to a family member in need, even when they look guilty; giving glory to God by owning up to sin and is consequences; overlooking favouritism; offering up oneself to save another; demonstrating true love by concrete acts of sacrifice that creates a context of trust; discarding control and the power of knowledge in favour of intimacy, embracing deep compassion, tender feelings, sensitivity and forgiveness and talking to one another.
A dysfunctional family that allows these virtues to embrace all, will become a light to the world.’
A prayer from a Northern Ireland Community
Father God, we come to you as children. Be with us as we learn to see one another with new eyes, hear one another with new hearts and treat one another in new and better ways.
We ask in Jesus name