Week Eight - August 28th - Joseph Series 2022 - Peter
Talk for Sunday 28th August 2022
Genesis ch.50 v.15-26
Joseph Reassures His Brothers
15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?”
16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died:
17 ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept.
18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.
19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God?
20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
John ch.21 v.15-19
Jesus Reinstates Peter
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.
18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”
19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
Romans ch.8 v.28-39
More Than Conquerors
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.
34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Dear Lord, may the words of my mouth, and the meditations of all our hearts, be acceptable in your eyes, our rock and our redeemer.
Good morning everyone!
This morning we come to the end of our look at the life of Joseph. It’s been a roller-coaster ride, charting the highs and lows of Joseph’s career, and his walk with God. Thinking back over the last 8 weeks or so, I wonder if anything has struck you in-particular? Perhaps the twists and turns of the narrative itself, or the development of some of the characters? Perhaps like me you’ve been reminded of all those great songs in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, or maybe you’ve marveled at the way in which God has somehow managed to achieve his good purposes, despite the best efforts by some characters to the contrary?
Now, eight weeks on, we’re in a better position to see how God has been at work. Our old testament reading this morning was from Genesis chapter 50, but much earlier in Genesis, in chapter 12, God established a covenant with Joseph’s great grandfather, Abraham. God promised Abraham that he would make him in to a great nation, and bless him. From this position of authority as Pharaoh’s second in command, Joseph was able to save the Egyptians, and eventually also his father and brothers from famine. He was able to continue God’s purposes; that is, to make Israel in to a great nation and to bless them, thereby helping to fulfill the first covenant promise.
Fly forward to Genesis chapter 50, our reading this morning. Jacob has just died, his sons have buried him in Canaan, and now the brothers are all back together in Egypt. When we read a few weeks ago in chapter 45 about their original re-union, we saw that Joseph’s brothers were petrified, but that Joseph himself could see God at work. ‘Do not be distressed and angry with yourselves for selling me here’, Joseph said to his brothers, ‘because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you’. And then again in our reading this morning, Joseph says to his brothers, ‘Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.’
Through Joseph, who doesn’t judge his brothers but recognises God at work, and through the brothers, who got so much wrong and needed continual forgiveness and reassurance, God is bringing about his good purposes and fulfilling his covenant promise to Abraham, growing the Israelite nation and blessing it.
God is a covenant God, a God who keeps his promises. But if we look on through the Bible, we can see how Joseph’s story is just one illustration, a short snippet of God’s complete story. For example, if we were to read the book of Exodus that comes next, we’d see how God continued to grow the Israelite people following Joseph’s death, to bring them out of slavery in Egypt, and lead them to the promised land. We’d learn how God established Israel as his covenant people, how they let him down, how the Judges and then the Kings sent by God lived flawed lives and how God’s Prophets were sent to try to restore them. We’d see how time after time, man thought he knew best and did things his way, only to fail and have to be rescued by God. And each time, we’d be reminded how God is our covenant God who keeps his promises, and lovingly restores his people, making them a great nation and blessing them.
If we kept reading for long enough of course we’d come to the new testament, to the Gospels, describing the birth, ministry, death, resurrection and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. And we’d see how God established a new covenant, a new promise that the old covenant had pointed us towards, but which is so much better because now it’s for everyone. It’s a covenant that’s based on the saving work of Jesus Christ, who died to pay the price that we can’t afford to pay for the things that we get wrong. And if we can accept that we need God’s forgiveness, and trust that God through Jesus has done everything necessary to save us, then we are put right with God and are promised eternal life with him – an amazing promise by our amazing covenant God.
How is all this helpful? Can I suggest that it’s helpful because it demonstrates that God is in control? Joseph’s life is an extract from a much longer story, but it serves to demonstrate God’s control of the detail in order to bring about his good purposes as part of the big picture. Joseph was favored by Jacob but hated by his brothers. The brothers wanted him dead but God intervened and had him sold as a slave in Egypt, saving him from his brothers’ murderous clutches. In Potiphar’s household he rose to prominence, suffered a miscarriage of justice and was jailed, happened to meet one of Pharaoh’s servants in jail who, at just the right time as it turned out, told Pharaoh about Joseph’s ability to interpret dreams. Joseph implemented the first recorded food rationing scheme in history, resulting in the salvation of many people in Egypt and the surrounding area. We could put this down to a series of remarkable coincidences, or we could choose to recognise that Joseph’s life is just one example of God’s supreme control.
Through Joseph’s story we’ve thought a bit about God’s covenants, and we’ve seen an example of God’s control. In many ways, our Gospel reading provides another example of both these aspects of God’s character. As Jesus talks with Peter over breakfast on the beach, he effectively re-instates him as leader of the fledgling church that Christ, through his life, death and resurrection, has created. Three times Jesus asks Peter if he loves him, and three times he commissions Peter to look after his followers, once perhaps for each time that Peter denied knowing Jesus during Jesus’s trial just a few days earlier. In commissioning Peter in this way, Jesus is defining how the Kingdom that he has established on earth will be sustained, that is, how the new covenant will be fulfilled. And if we think back over the events of Jesus’s earthly ministry, even just charting the ups and downs of Peter’s life, we can see just how far Peter has come; from impetuous fisherman, to future leader of Christ’s church. We can see again that God is in absolute control.
Can I suggest that, despite appearances to the contrary, God is still a covenant God who keeps his promises, and a God who is in complete control despite appearances to the contrary. As God worked through the life of Joseph, and as he worked through the Apostle Peter’s life, so he works in our lives too. One of the joys of studying God’s word and of reading about Biblical characters is that time and time again, we can see God at work. Our difficulty as we live day-to-day in the here and now is that we don’t have the benefit of hindsight. We often can’t understand why things happen as they do, and we fail to see God at work. Catherine talked more about this in her sermon on 7th August, and you can find this and every sermon in the Joseph series on the Church Website.
My prayer is that through all of life’s trials, we will hold on to God’s promise of salvation through Jesus Christ, remembering that God is a Covenant God, and a God who is in control. God may feel remote at times, but he loves us with an intensity that resulted in him sending his son Jesus Christ to die and pay the price that we can’t afford to pay. It cost Christ everything, and we inherit all the richness of God; his covenant promises and his sovereign control, and the fullness of his riches in eternity. We receive God’s riches, at Christ’s Expense. We receive GRACE. And the truly amazing thing is that God’s GRACE is always sufficient. As Pete Greig put it in his book ‘How to Pray, ‘There is more Grace in God than sin in us.’ Joseph suffered to save many lives. Jesus suffered and died to save many more lives. God keeps his promises, God is in control, and God freely offers his Grace to any who will accept it.
Let us pray to close.
‘Loving heavenly father, we thank you for your covenant promises, for your control of all things, and for your grace offered freely through Jesus Christ. Through all aspects of life, help us to remember that your grace will supply all our needs. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.’