Joseph had many reasons for tears in his life. His being sold to Egypt as a slave. Being falsely accused and thrown into prison. Being confronted with his past as the brothers who had sold him into slavery came before him in Egypt for the first time. Seeing his brother Benjamin for the first time in years, and then seeing his father Jacob alive, after thinking he would never see them again. And then years later, seeing his father pass away.
But perhaps his poignant tears came after all that had happened. Following his father’s death, his brothers send him a message saying, “We know that we did you wrong all those years ago. But before Father died, he asked that you forgive us.”
And at those words, Joseph wept. Why? Probably because he had forgiven his brothers all those years ago, and they still felt guilty for what they had done. They still felt a block between themselves and Joseph. And when he called them before him, they threw themselves on the ground, saying, “We are your slaves.” But Joseph picked them up off the ground and said, “There’s need for this. Why are you doing this? I’ve already forgiven you. I’m not God. I’m not your judge. I’m your brother. So get up and don’t be afraid. I will take care of you.”
I wonder if God weeps as Joseph did when we hold on to guilt in our lives. I wonder if God weeps when he sees us hold back from him in fear, thinking he still desires to punish us for our sin. I wonder if God weeps when we fall before him in fear when he’s already forgiven us and made us his children. Unlike Joseph, he is our judge, and yet because of Jesus, he doesn’t condemn us.
Instead he lifts us to our feet and says, “Why are you so afraid? I’ve already forgiven you. My Son has already paid the penalty for your sin. I don’t judge you any longer. You’re my child. So get up, and don’t be afraid. I will take care of you.”
Do you still feel guilty for your past? Do you hesitate to draw near to God because of your guilt? Just as Joseph forgave his brothers, God has forgiven you. So draw near. He will accept you. Draw near.
19 So, brothers and sisters, we are completely free to enter the Most Holy Place without fear because of the blood of Jesus’ death.20 We can enter through a new and living way that Jesus opened for us. It leads through the curtain—Christ’s body.21 And since we have a great priest over God’s house,22 let us come near to God with a sincere heart and a sure faith, because we have been made free from a guilty conscience, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:19-22 (NCV)