Over time, some words tend to spoil, like milk left out too long on the kitchen counter. But there are two words that remain unspoiled: fear and grace. Fear reminds us that life is filled with guilt and uncertainty. Grace reminds us that there is forgiveness and assurance in the midst of blame and doubt. Joseph’s brothers were well acquainted with guilt and uncertainty. Their return trip to Egypt brought hope of proving they weren’t spies, of ransoming Simeon, and of buying more food. But they only had hope—they didn’t know what would happen when they reached Egypt.
Modelling God’s grace, Joseph welcomed his brothers into his home, responded to their mistreatment with kindness and blessing, and gathered into a family those who had long felt alienated. As we watch Joseph’s shamefaced brothers receive his outpouring of grace, we will be challenged to set aside our guilt and fear and accept God’s free gift of grace.