So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. (Genesis 45:4-5)
There is no shortage of blogs, books, and sermons that use the life of Joseph as a model for Christian living. From not giving up on your “God given dreams,” to fleeing sexual temptation, to being faithful in tribulation, Joseph is like proverbial “Swiss Army Knife” of godliness. However, the primary point of Joseph’s life (and every story in Scripture) is to point us to Christ. To tell us something about what God is like and how He interacts with His Creation.
In this text, Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers. This is a terrifying thing for them. There is a great famine in the land and at the brink of starvation and death they have journeyed to Egypt to buy food. But only to discover that their fate is in the hands of the brother they rejected, betrayed, sold out, abandoned, and horribly sinned against. These brothers are seeing that same weak little boy they sold into slavery, standing right before them as a man with absolute power. The brother they thought was dead by their own doing is very much alive and now holds their collective fate in his hands.
The last words you’d expect to hear are: “Come near to me, please. Do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because of everything you’ve done. God sent me to preserve your life.”
As we stumble through life, we so often find ourselves weighed down with guilt and shame. We’ve sinned against other people and we’ve sinned against God. The Devil is quick to tell us that the presence of the Holy God is the absolute last place terrible sinners like us will want to be. We’ve disregarded Him so often. We’ve sold Him out. We’ve abandoned both His Law and His love. And yet, the truth is this: as we stand distressed in fear and shame, the voice of our Brother Jesus showers us with grace.
He says, “Come near to me, please.”
It’s His humble plea to take all that distresses us. To take all our sin and guilt, and the shame that goes with it. It’s free and complete forgiveness. It’s absolution and family reconciliation. And it doesn’t stop there…
Jesus asks us to “come near” because He has been sent to preserve our lives. He is the one once rejected, sold out and killed, who now stands in absolute power and is using that power to save the lives of people like you and me. To give us a good forever in His home.
Jesus is the greater Joseph who speaks these words not only to eleven brothers but to a whole world of weary sinners. He is God in the flesh who says to all flesh…
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Whoever you are and despite all that you’ve done, Jesus stands in the midst of the wreckage of our sin saying, “Come near to me, please.”