The account from Genesis of Joseph forgiving his brothers. ..it’s just another one of those “everybody hug” moments. Yes, I am happy for the brothers who have no need to go through the rest of their lives in perpetual fear that one day their sins will bring a horrible price. But, I am happiest for Joseph He has his family back. Joseph’s last years will be spent within the comfort and companionship of a reconciled family. Perhaps, only those who have experienced the hurt and division brought about when one side of a family betrays another can appreciate the quality of mercy which Joseph has demonstrated. Joseph forgives his brothers and spends his last years playing with their children “to the third generation.” “And Joseph died being one hundred ten years old.” I am happy for Joseph. I believe God is happy with Joseph. This is the last event recorded in Genesis. It is the last event recorded in Joseph’s life. This closes the book on Henesis. Perhaps the scriptures are saying, “When you remember Joseph, who rose from a pit to a palace-who rescued a nation from famine- whose faith God used to preserve a holy people-remember most that Joseph had a forgiving heart.
Genesis chapter 50 is not the first time Joseph has forgiven his brothers however. By this point it has been seventeen years since the first time. And through both words and actions we see how Joseph has proclaimed forgiveness for his brothers many times. Still, they seem to have a need to hear it one more time. And as far as it is within Joseph’s power to forgive once more-he does
Every time I revisit this story, however, I cannot help but note that when Joseph forgives he is in a position of strength. I want to know if God would have expected Joseph to forgive when he was suffering the indignities of a slave, or during all those years when he was held in prison-falsely accused. Joseph forgives from the palace: I want to know could he have done so from the pit?
I believe that Jesus thinks he could: or at least, he should. Forgiveness is important to Jesus. Forgiveness is a part of the nature of God. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” But an unforgiving heart will separate us from the will of God and the peace of God.
The Keys to the Kingdom which Christ trusted to the Church, to open the gates of heaven, this binding and loosening, (Matt. 16:19 and 18:18) is not secondary to our purpose. It is our reason for being.