God be Gracious to You! (Genesis 43:29)
Previously, we have seen how Jacob and his family are in need of a salvation that goes beyond food. We may also think of the main characters in this drama as the walking wounded.
Poor old Jacob. Bereaved of his favourite wife, and the (first) son of his old age, he has carried the grief these 20-plus years. And up till then he has pinned the blame on his other sons. And now he won’t let go of Benjamin, even if it means starvation for the whole family. (For how long? So long that two round trips to Egypt could have been made (43:10).)
He has been wounded a very long time.
Now imagine what it is like for his other sons. Every day you look at your father, knowing that he doesn’t look at you the same way he looks at Joseph or Benjamin. You have yearned to gain your father’s affections. But after all these years, all you are hoping for is that he will say “yes”, to let go, so that your family can eat. That would break any son’s heart.
The issues run deeper however… for you are also wracked by guilt and insecurity. You dared not face up to your complicity in Joseph’s disappearance. And now, every move by Joseph seems to strike you with fear. Even an invitation to lunch with the lord of Egypt scares you to bits (v.18). The brothers think that they (and their donkeys) will get assaulted.
The brothers too are the walking wounded.
The healing for such a deeply broken family must run deep. As we will see in the biblical story, the remedy will be Amazing Grace.
Judah begins to show a glimmer of grace when he offers himself as surety for Benjamin, the lad who has stolen his father’s affections. It looks like he has learned something from the Tamar episode after all.
The most grace, however, is being shown by Joseph to his trembling brothers. Perhaps it is the sight of dear Benjamin that moves (and heals?) him to show kindness to his brothers. And so for the ones who had inflicted such grievous hurt on him, he throws a party — extravagance in a time of famine! The brothers receive all the customary rites of oriental hospitality (and yes, the donkeys get fed, v. 24). Benjamin gets the largest pile of food, not merely because he is Joseph’s brother, but also to assure the others that no ill will is meant to them all. They are comforted and can be at ease to drink and be merry (v.34).
Like Benjamin’s portion, grace upon grace (cf. John 1:16) is being heaped by Joseph on his brothers, even though they do not fully realize it. The best is yet to come, but we shall save it for the later episodes of the saga.
For the moment let’s talk about grace. Grace is a relational word. It must be extended by someone to someone else, and it is after something dreadful has happened. It is the balm to heal the walking wounded.
Perhaps you are one of the walking wounded.
Even after having professed faith in Jesus, you may still be limping about because of a grievous hurt from a broken relationship, of words spoken that have trampled on your heart, of cold wars that have not thawed, of long overdue forgiveness. Some of us may be failing to show grace to the foreign worker, the poor and marginalized in our midst, and this too might be a sign of not being whole.
Dear one, God wants to heap grace upon grace on you. Our first response must be to Him, to receive the Amazing Grace that He has lavished on us in Jesus. Then and only then can we be gracious enough to seek reconciliation. As much as it depends on us, may we then (in Pastor Steven’s words) accept the responsibility, bear the blame, and even put up with injustice — whatever it takes to help restore a relationship to wholeness. In seeking wholesome relationships, we too will be made whole.
Then will the world know the Amazing Grace of God, and His power to save.
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations. — Psalm 67:1–2