The old hymn says it beautifully: “Grace, grace, God’s grace; grace that is greater than all my sin.”
But the grace of God is not only great enough to “pardon and cleanse within.” It is so powerful, as Joseph’s older brothers learned in Genesis 45, that it can turn the most horrible sin you have ever committed against another, or has ever been committed against you, and make it the slave of his mercy.
“What do you mean he’s alive?” Jacob had no place to put Rueben’s words.
“I know it’s unbelievable, Father,” Rueben replied. “We hardly believe it and we saw him with our own eyes. The Egyptian lord — the one who demanded that we bring Benjamin — it’s Joseph. He’s not only alive, he’s…” Reuben stumbled over the strange sentence. “He’s now ruling Egypt for Pharaoh.”
Jacob squinted skeptically. A son dead for two decades is not easily resurrected. “You are cruel to tell me such a thing unless you have no doubt.”
“I have no doubt, Father. It’s going to take hours to tell you everything. But we spoke with him. We ate with him in his house.”
Simeon couldn’t resist: “He sat us around the table in the order of our births! Before any of us knew who he was! We thought he was a magician!”
“And you should have seen how much food he placed before Benjamin!” joked Zebulun, giving Benjamin’s head an affectionate push.
Reuben continued, “He told us himself, Father: ‘I am your brother, Joseph.’ We responded just like you’re doing now. I thought he was tricking us. But after talking to him for hours there’s no doubt. It’s him. And the first thing he wanted to know was, ‘Is my father still alive?'” (Genesis 45:3).
Jacob’s stony expression didn’t change, though his eyes were wet. He moved them from son to son, lingering on Benjamin. Then back to Reuben. “But you showed me his bloody robe. He was attacked by a wild animal. If he survived, why didn’t he ever come home? Why would he go to Egypt? Joseph would never have forsaken me.”
The moment had come — the one they had dreaded the whole way home. For 22 years they had kept this festering wound of wickedness concealed from their father. But now God had exposed it. Shame bent the heads of nine sons. Judah was the exception. He had asked to break this news to their father. He had led in their sin. He would lead in owning it. “Joseph didn’t forsake you, Father,” said Judah, stepping forward. “He was forsaken. No, worse, he was betrayed.”
[Read the rest of the article at Desiring God.]