July 18

Moreover he kissed all his brothers and wept over them, and after that his brothers talked with him. Genesis 45:15

Joseph embraced Benjamin, his younger brother, who had not been party to his betrayal. Then he turned to his half-brothers, who had bullied him and abandoned him to a life of slavery. Some of these men were cruel and immoral – Reuben had committed incest – Genesis 35:22, Simeon and Levi had senselessly crippled an ox – Genesis 49:5-6. Joseph had been deeply hurt by them. This was a shattered family. The clock could not be turned back then, any more than it can now. Joseph demonstrates the power of grace and love to forgive past hurts. He reached out and gave the kiss of brotherly affection and reconciliation, and broke the blockage that was in their hearts. Joseph’s kiss released these men’s tongues to speak, and probably their first words were expressions of sorrow over their past actions. They knew they were unworthy. They had been frozen with guilt and shame. It was forgiveness, love and grace that started them on the path of recovery from their pitiable state. The lesson is clear – it is only if we have grace in our hearts that we can reach out to those whose hearts are locked. The just will always have to lay down their lives for the unjust, the loving for the unloving, the gracious for the ungracious. Where do you stand? Receive Jesus’ loving embrace to your heart each day, and pass it on to the frozen world all around you.