Journeys with Joseph — The Ultimate Test of Love
The Ultimate Test of Love Genesis 44:1-34, John 15:9-17
Have you ever tested someone to see if they were trustworthy? Have you ever left some money on the counter to see if someone would take it or not? Have you ever asked a friend to run a small errand to see how reliable they are before you asked them to do something bigger? I know as a parent I have given my kids little tests to see if I can trust them with bigger things. If they ask for money when they go somewhere with friends I might say, “Ok, but you need to bring the change back and let me know what you spent it on. Then maybe next time I can give you more.” Maybe you have never directly tested a friend or loved one, but most of us have at one time or another asked for a good reference for a mechanic, a repairman, a doctor, or a dentist. We ask for a good reference because we want to know if it is someone we can trust.
I think Joseph wants to know if his brothers are trustworthy when they come asking for help years after they had beaten him and thrown him in a pit. In this week’s portion of the story it looks like once again Joseph is framing his brother’s in order to teach them a lesson. But rather than an act of revenge it seems that Joseph is testing his brothers to see if they have really changed. Will they treat their youngest brother Benjamin like they treated him or will they demonstrate a different kind of love and respect that they didn’t seem to have before? Would one of them be willing to lay down his life for his younger brother in order to save him and save their father from grief?
Jesus seems to challenge his followers with a similar kind of test in the Gospel reading from Matthew. He says that the greatest kind of love is to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Jesus, of course, will do this very thing as he gives his life for us on the cross. The question is if his followers will do the same. What does it mean to lay down our lives and in what situation would we be willing to do so? Is there someone you would be willing to lay down your life for?
-Pastor Erik Goehner