Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back. (Luke 6:37-38)

Had we not been snowed out last Sunday, we would have read this passage, preceded by the story of Joseph receiving his brothers in Egypt. As I'm sure you recall, Joseph was sold by his jealous brothers into slavery in Egypt. He was imprisoned after refusing the advances of his owner's wife. Which might have been the end of the story, except for his ability to interpret dreams. One of his fellow inmates reported Joseph's ability to Pharaoh, who had been having a series of troubling dreams. Joseph interpreted them as predicting seven years of abundance, to be followed by seven years of no crops at all. Pharaoh then placed Joseph in charge of storing up the surplus of the first seven years, so famine could be avoided during the second seven.

Thus by God's grace he was perfectly positioned to help his family when they sent envoys to Egypt seeking help after two years of the famine. But would he? Here before him were the brothers who had planned to kill him and had sold him as a slave. One could understand if he had ordered them locked up or even executed. And indeed, Joseph at first gave into the temptation to get back at them. He had a silver cup planted in Benjamin's bag, and accused the brothers of stealing. But then he relented. Joseph forgave them and arranged for Jacob and all his extended family, the people of Israel, to come down to Egypt where they have enough to eat.

It strikes me that Joseph's story is a perfect illustration of the promise Jesus made. Because Joseph found it in himself to forgive, Israel escaped starvation. Instead Jacob and clan received a "good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over." When the Pharaoh heard of it he said, "Do this: take wagons for your little ones and for your wives, and bring your father and come. Give no thought to your possessions, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours." Joseph also was filled with joy to see his father and his brothers.

How was Joseph able to forgive his brothers? Well I'm sure it helped that things turned out well for him in the end. But perhaps he had also prepared himself by meditating on these verses from Psalm 37: 9 Refrain from anger, leave rage alone; *do not fret yourself; it leads only to evil. 10 For evildoers shall be cut off, *but those who wait upon the Lord shall possess the land.


The Rev. Dr. Thomas D. Harries