Journeys with Joseph — Forgiveness is a Process

Journeys with Joseph -- Forgiveness is a Process

Forgiveness is a Process         Genesis 45:1-28,  Matthew 18:18-22

As we have seen the last few Sundays, Joseph does not forgive his brothers quickly when he encounters them years after they hurt him. This seems to be part of the reason that he does not reveal himself to his brothers right away when he sees them again. It could be, he first wanted to see if they had really changed.  It could be, he wasn’t ready to let go of the anger he felt towards them or the hurt they had caused him.

Finally, in today’s passage from Genesis, Joseph reveals to his brothers that he is alive after all these years when they thought he was dead.  His brothers are understandably shocked and now doubly scared as they realized what Joseph could do to them.  But Joseph has come to the point in his life where he can see that God has been working through all the difficult struggles he has endured.  He has come to a place where he is able to forgive. I don’t think it was easy and it has taken some time, but Joseph is genuinely able to let go of any hurt and anger he might have had towards his brothers.  He lets out a loud cry releasing his emotion then welcomes his family.

Jesus calls us to forgive as well, and not just once or seven times, but seventy  seven times and even beyond that.  In the Hebrew understanding seven was symbolic of a perfect or complete number.  By saying we are to forgive seventy-seven times Jesus may be implying that forgiveness is oftentimes a process.  It is not just that is over and done with, but rather something we continue to work for each and every day.  Is there a situation in your life where you might need some forgiveness?  In a world where so many can seem bent on revenge how can we bring the message of a merciful God who wants us to forgive?

-Pastor Erik Goehner